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Full text of "History of the Methodist Protestant Church : giving a general view of the causes and events that led to the organization of that church, and a more particular account of transactions in North Carolina, never before published, with an appendix ..."

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. Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the 
State of Maryland. 



The motives that induce an author to present his 
work to the public often become the subject of spec- 
ulation. The writer, in setting forth this volume, begs 
leave to assure his readers that he is actuated by 
no ambitious or sinister motives, but his object is to 
vindicate and place truth in her proper position, 
and to do justice to the memory and characters of 
some who are no more numbered among the liv- 
ing. To this end the late Dr. John F. Bellamy had 
collected materials for such a work, but he was 
snatched away by the hand of death before it was 
begun. The materials thus collected fell into the 
hands of the late Rev. William Bellamy, who, al- 
though far advanced in life, had determined to get 
some friend to assist him in writing and publishing 
a history of reform in the "Old Roanoke District," 
and had commenced arranging the documents rela- 
ting to the same, when death called him, also, away 
to the spirit land. At the suggestions and in com- 
pliance with the wishes of some of my Christian 
brethren, both of the ministry and laity, I consented 
to undertake to write out the contemplated work. 



In the outset it was my intention to write a 
"History of the Methodist Protestant Church in 
North Carolina;" but at the suggestion of a minis- 
terial brother of an adjoining conference, for whom 
I entertain the highest regard, I consented to alter 
the plan, after I had made considerable progress, 
and to give a "general view of the subject of re- 
form throughout the United States, and a particular 
or definite account of its rise in Carolina." This 
change must account for the character of the former 
part of the work. 

Circumstances have demanded such a work. 
Nearly all the "original reformers" in the ministry 
of this state have gone down to the grave ; the 
motives by which they were actuated have long 
been impugned and misrepresented, and grati- 
tude demands that justice should be done to their 

One of those, who was a faithful veteran in the 
days of "reform," but who is now no more, has 
left behind him a well written essay upon this sub- 
ject. After expressing a desire that such a histori- 
cal account should be written, he adds, " The writer 
of this cannot suppress the belief that a similar spirit 
to that which hung the bones of Cromwell in chains 
to gratify the resentment of monarchy against re- 
publicanism, is here in the old North State, and 


ready to pounce upon the reputation of every con- 
sistent and faithful reformer, so soon as they and 
their efficient friends have gone the way of all the 

The sources from whence the writer has derived 
his materials for the work are the papers and docu- 
ments collected by Dr. Bellamy, and manuscripts 
and pamphlets forwarded by brethren from dif- 
ferent places. I have also gleaned many articles 
and historical documents from the columns of the 
"Mutual Rights," and "Mutual Rights and Chris- 
tian Intelligencer." The object of the writer has 
been to state facts as they transpired, therefore he 
has drawn largely upon documents written and pub- 
lished by the actors themselves. 

Tn the Appendix, which contains a review of the 
policy adopted by the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
in her organization, the introduction of episcopacy 
and the exclusion of the laity from her councils, in 
her rule-making department, it has been our object 
to show that the reformers had just cause to peti- 
tion for a change in that government, and ask for 
an acknowledgment of their ecclesiastical rights. 

Throughout the entire work the object of the 
author has been to exhibit truth with its natural 
claims. If in this he has failed, and error has stolen 
into his pages, it is his misfortune and not bis fault. 


He pleads not infallibility, but rectitude of intention. 
The volume has been written, with the exception 
of a few pages, amidst the anxieties, cares, duties 
and toils of an itinerant life. And in this place 
the writer most respectfully returns his thanks to 
those highly esteemed Christian brethren who have 
so kindly afforded him facilities for the prosecution 
of his work: and with a willingness that the book 
shall stand or fall according to its merits, it is here- 
by submitted to the patrons of religious liberty by 


North Carolina, Mat, 1849. 



Dissatisfaction among the Local Ministry in North Carolina on 
account of the encroachments of the General Conference. — 
Address to the Bishops and Virginia Annual Conference. — 
Circular to the District Conference. — Memorial to the Gen- 
eral Conference of 1824, 13 


Meeting of Reformers in Baltimore. — Baltimore Union Society 
formed. — Formation of the Roanoke Union Society; — Its 
Constitution and Circular. — Trial and defence of Rev. W. 
W.Hill, 41 


Protest of the Roanoke Union Society against the ninth section 
of Discipline. — Formation and Constitution of Granville Union 
Society in North Carolina. — Trials and expulsions of some of 
its members. — Correspondence between Ivey Harris and Rev. 
William Compton with regard to the expulsions, 86 

Reform in Tennessee. — Trial of Rev. D. B. Dorsey before the 
Baltimore Annual Conference. — Letter of Rev. H. B. Bas- 
com to Mr. Dorsey. — Rev. Mr. Dorsey's reply, giving an ac- 
count of his trial. — Trials and expulsions of the Rev. Dr. 
Jennings and others of the Baltimore Union Society, by the 
preacher in charge, Rev. J. M. Hanson, 127 


Association of the Expelled Reformers in Baltimore. — Declar- 
ation set forth, and withdrawal of ladies in the city. — Gen- 
eral Convention of reformers in Baltimore in 1827. — Sched- 
ule of Union Societies. — Resolutions of Roanoke Union 
Society. — Letter of Rev. William Compton to that body. — 
Review of the Letter by Committee of Correspondence,. . . . 169 




Resolutions of the General Conference of 1828. — Notification 
of Rev Mr. Compton to the ministers of the Roanoke Union 
Society. — Examination of the grounds assumed by Rev. Mr. 
Compton. — Trials of the Local Ministers at Horeb. — Expul- 
sions of the same. — Expulsions at Albemarle, in the eastern 
part of North Carolina, , 197 


Resolutions of the Union Society in Cincinnati. — Trials and ex- 
pulsions of ministers. — Secession of a large body of members 
from the M. E. Church.— Letter of Dr. Bishop to Rev. Mr. 
Wright.— Call of a General Convention for 1828, 231 


General Convention of 1828. — Articles of Association adopted 
by the Convention. — Adoption of the Articles of Association 
by the reformers generally. — Persecution of reformers in 
Virginia. — Progress of reform during 1829. — Letters and 
Reports from the agents appointed by the Convention. — Let- 
ters from Rev. G. Brown. — Extract of a Letter from Rev. 
A. McCaine 255 


Organization of the North Carolina Conference. — Adoption of 
the Constitution and Discipline. — Persecution of reformers in 
western Carolina. — Expulsion of Rev. Travis Jones. — Organ- 
ization of associated Methodist Churches and rapid spread of 
reform principles in that part of the state. — Statistical table 
of the ministers and laymen expelled for their principles of 
reform in the United States. — First Virginia Annual Confer- 
ence. — Pennsylvania, Alabama and Georgia Conferences. — 
Adoption of the conventional articles by a body of Methodist 
Societies in W. New York, and organization of the Genesee 
Conference. — Vermont and Tennessee Conferences — General 
Convention of 1830. — Constitution and Discipline adopted,. . 287 


General Conference of 1834.— General Conference of 1838. — 
Excitement in that body upon the subject of Slavery. — Gen- 
eral Conference of 1842.— General Conference of 1846. — 
Boundaries of the Annual Conferences. — Statistical Table. — 
Concluding Remarks, 315 




Episcopacy. — Ordination among Methodist Preachers in Vir- 
ginia in 1779.— Letter of Mr. Wesley to the American 
Methodists, dated September 10, 1784. — Remarks upon the 
preceding letter. — Dr. Coke's letter of authority from Mr. 
Wesley. — Dr. Coke's letter to Mr. Wesley. — Charles Wesley 
to his brother John. — Extracts from Rev. Jesse Lee and Rev. 
James O'Kelley, 359 

Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury assume the title of bishop. — Re- 
marks upon the same. — Letter from Mr. Wesley to a friend. 
— Letter from Mr. Wesley to Mr. Asbury, remonstrating 
with him about the title "bishop." — Letter from Dr. Coke 
to Bishop White of Philadelphia, proposing a union of the 
Methodist and Episcopalian Churches. — Letter from Bishop 
White to one of his friends. — Dr. Coke's certificate to the 
conference. — Dr. Coke's letter to Mr. Wilberforce, soliciting 
the appointment of bishop in connexion with the Church of 
England to India. — Remarks upon the foregoing, 367 


The right of the laity to participate in the councils of the church 
examined and vindicated from Scripture. — An examination of 
the steps taken in the organization of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church and the exclusion of the laity from participating in 
her councils. — The justice and propriety of that measure 
examined. — Remarks in vindication of the character of Rev. 
James O'Kelley, 393 




Dissatisfaction among- the Local Ministry in North Carolina on ac- 
count of the encroachments of the General Conference. — Address 
to the Bishops and Virginia Annual Conference. — Circular to 
the District Conference. — Memorial to the General Conference 
of 1824. 

The chronicles of the past, whether sacred or 
profane, are interesting to the inquiring mind. By 
resorting to the archives of history we are enabled 
to separate truth from error, and offer contradiction 
to falsehood when she appears under the garb of 
tradition. History tells us of the sufferings and 
toils through which our forefathers passed in con- 
tending for that liberty which we as a nation enjoy. 
And it is also to history that we must look for a 
true and faithful narrative of the causes and events 
that led to the securement of our religious liberties. 
They should ever be watched with a jealous eye, 
and guarded with the most careful solicitude, for 


whatever belongs to our spiritual interests, or per- 
tains to our religious rights, is most unquestionably 
of vital importance. 

The history of Methodism for the last century 
testifies to the fact that the great Methodist family 
are now divided into several distinct ecclesiastical 
denominations. And although such denominational 
divisions have taken place, both in England and 
America, yet so far as the doctrines and means of 
grace taught by Mr. Wesley are concerned, they 
are all of the same faith, and subscribe to the same 
doctrine of salvation. The inquiry then mignt 
arise, what are the causes that have led to these 
several divisions among the believers in the doc- 
trines taught by Wesley ? The answer is, men have 
had their ecclesiastical rights withheld from them ; 
and in order to enjoy them they were sought in new 
organizations. The student in ecclesiastical his- 
tory will learn that in every instance which has 
resulted in division, these rights have been with- 
held by the ministry, exercising authoritative pow- 
er, and who, evincing a disposition to lord it over 
God's heritage, have thereby produced schism in 
the body. 

That every citizen of our country has an inalien- 
able right to be heard in the law or rule-making 
department, either in person or by proxy, delegated 
by his suffrage, is a doctrine that surely no Ameri- 
can will deny. Again, that which is politically 
right cannot be religiously wrong; and if we are 
entitled to such right in the State, according to the 


principle laid down, we are entitled to the same in 
the church. 

The Bible is admitted among all Protestant 
denominations of Christians to be the only rule of 
faith and practice, and consequently it becomes the 
standard of religious morals. Hence we receive it 
as an axiom of sound doctrine that no man should 
be divested of ecclesiastical privileges or excluded 
from the communion of the church of Christ, ex- 
cept it be for conduct incompatible with the pre- 
cepts and doctrines of the word of God. 

The Methodist Protestant Church was originally 
composed of seceders from the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. The causes of the secession existed in 
the polity of the M. E. Church; and as those causes 
have not been generally understood, and as the mo- 
tives and characters of the seceders or " Reformers" 
have been impugned, it is the design of the writer 
to give a faithful narrative of all that relates to the 
same, so far as the records and documents extant, 
which relate to those things, afford information. 
The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church which met in 1S20 adopted a rule granting 
to the local preachers a charter, by virtue of which 
the local preachers in each presiding elder's district 
were permitted to meet together annually in Dis- 
trict Conference. According to the charter, the 
presiding elder by virtue of his office was to pre- 
side as chairman. The prerogatives of this con- 
ference extended to the granting of license to preach, 
recommending preachers to the Annual Conference 


for the itinerancy and for orders, &c. Although 
this charter had the semblance of a boon, still the 
local preachers as well as the laity were without 
any voice whatever either in the Annual or Gen- 
eral Conferences. The General Conference that 
granted the local preachers' conference charter also 
proceeded to enact some special rules for the govern- 
ment of the local ministry, without any delegated 
authority whatever from them. The assembling 
of themselves together in the District Conferences 
afforded them an ample opportunity of interchang- 
ing with each other their views with regard to their 
rights as ministers of the church of Christ. Ever 
since the establishment of the governing policy of 
the M. E. Church there were some lew to be found 
within her pales who questioned the high claims of 
the itinerant ministry -to exclusive legislation and 
authoritative control. Soon after the rise of the 
General Conference of 1S20, the subject began to 
be discussed by many who advocated the right of 
the local ministry and laity to representation in the 
rule-making department of the church. It was 
among the local ministry (particularly of the south) 
that the principles of the polity of the M. E. Chui-ch 
were at this time severely questioned ; for feeling 
themselves, by virtue of their calling and ordination 
to the ministry, entitled to the same rights and 
privileges with their brethren in the itinerancy, and 
finding themselves without a voice or representation 
in the rule-making department of the church, and 
at the same time the itinerant ministry beins; vested 


with the making as well as the execution of those 
laws, they very naturally concluded that a disparity 
existed, unwarranted by the word of God or the 
nature and obligations of the ministerial office. At 
the first meeting of Roanoke District Conference of 
local preachers (after the granting of the charter) 
the subject began to be earnestly discussed. The 
General Conference of 1820, as has been remarked, 
passed some special rules for the government ot 
the local ministry, unrepresented as they were in 
that body. These rules had no application what- 
ever to the laity. To the local ministry it seemed 
to be a stretch of power unwarranted in the nature 
of right; and as the "march of power is ever on- 
ward, and its tendency is to accumulation," many 
of them became alarmed with regard to the safety 
of their ecclesiastical rights, and, like our fore- 
fathers, upon the invasion of their rights by the im- 
position of the celebrated tea tax and stamp act by 
the parliamentary authority of Britain, they strong- 
ly protested against such a stretch of power on the 
part of the General Conference; not on account of 
the restriction imposed by the rule above mentioned, 
as many of the advocates of itinerant supremacy 
have very unjustly and unfairly contended in the 
South, but on account of the principle involved, legis- 
lation without representations. They took the 
ground that the General Conference had no just 
right to enact a special rule for their government 
alone without their being represented in that body 
by delegated authority. -They laid down the true 


American principle, and set up their claims of right 
to the same. In the year 1821* the District Con- 
ference of local preachers for Roanoke District in 
North Carolina, in order to bring the attention of 
their brethren and the church at large to the sub- 
ject of the encroachments of the General Confer- 
ence, sent up an address to the Virginia Annual 

The caption of the address runs in the fol- 
lowing words : "Address to the Bishops and Vir- 
ginia Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church." After expressing astonishment at the 
stretch of power exercised by the General Confer- 
ence, and a regret that the harmony of the itinerant 
and local ministry should be threatened or disturbed 
thereby, the address proceeds, "Much sensibility 

* During the year 1821 the spirit of inquiry among the Method- 
ist people concerning their ecclesiastical rights seems to have been 
awakened throughout the United States, both among the ministry 
and the laity. This was nothing new. The same inquiry per- 
vaded the Methodist community in 1794. Rev. Jesse Lee says, 
"The same spirit prevailed in many places, both among our local 
preachers and private members. Some of them contended that the 
local preachers ought to have a seat and a vote in all our confer- 
ences ; and others said there ought to be a delegation of lay mem- 
bers." (Lee's History of the Methodists, page 213.) About this 
time the "Western Repository" was gotten up, being edited by 
William S. Stockton. In this periodical the ecclesiastical rights of 
the local ministry and laity were discussed with marked ability, 
great clearness and force, by writers from various parts of the 
Union. Although the local ministry in Carolina were among the 
first in asserting and vindicating their rights, yet the laity seem to- 
have lain dormant upon the question until the formation of the 
Baltimore Union Society, as will be noticed in its proper place. 


is created, and inquiry is set on foot whether the 
General Conference possesses any constitutional 
right, consistent with the articles of the church and 
the economy of Methodism, to pass such a rule or 
make such a law. It is considered by some that 
they have not, because the 24th Article of the Church 
disallows the idea that the goods, riches, &c, of 
Christians are common, as touching the right, title 
and possession of the same, as some do falsely 
boast. They think, as that article grants to 
Christian men the exclusive right, title and pos- 
session of their own property, the fair conse- 
quence is that the General Conference have no 
right to impose a restriction upon them in the 
manufacture or transfer thereof, beyond what the 
law of the nation, honesty and religion do mani- 
festly require. 

" We do hereb}^ most earnestly ask the opinion 
of the Bishops and Conference upon the subject. 
And if they should be of opinion that the General 
Conference have the right to pass the aforesaid 
law, then we would most respectfully ask the 
Bishops, Conference and traveling preachers at 
large, whether there be any constitutional limits 
prescribed in the system of Methodism bej^ond 
which the General Conference cannot go in lay- 
ing restrictions upon the local preachers, as a 
condition of holding their office t And if they 
think that the system does prescribe limits to 
the legislative authority of the General Confer- 
ence, respecting the local preachers, we would 


feel a peculiar satisfaction in seeing the limits 
of their power fully and plainly stated by proper 

" But if the traveling preachers are of opinion 
that the General Conference is under no restriction 
in that respect, but are at full liberty to require any 
sacrifices of the local preachers, which they may 
from time to time think proper to exact; or that the 
General Conference, in conjunction with the travel- 
ing preachers at large, are under no constitutional 
restraint beyond which they cannot go respecting 
the local preachers; in that case this conference 
would respectfully ask whether, considering the re- 
finement and liberality of the country and age in 
which we live, the vast and growing numbers, the 
talent, influence, zeal and utility of the local preach- 
ers, a reform in the system of church government is 
not necessary, so far, at least, as respects the local 
preachers, by granting them a charter sufficiently 
clear to secure thereafter their official dignity and 
domestic tranquillity from any further encroach- 
ments ; or else admit them to an equal share in the 
councils of the church, at least so far as self-gov- 
ernment is concerned ? For why should the local 
preachers alone be considered incapable of self- 

*We have inserted this address of the " Roanoke District 
Conference" of local preachers because the motives of the local 
preachers have been misrepresented, on account of this very ad- 
dress. Their object was not to ask a repeal of this rule under the 
circumstances, but to oppose the grounds taken by the General 
Conference, to enact special rules for their government without 
their consent. 


government ? Does a man become a p olitical 
idiot by becoming a local preacher among the 

" But it has been said, if we admit delegates 
from the local order into the General Conference, 
we shall form too large a body to do business. To 
this we reply, fix the ratio upon a large scale, and 
the number of representatives will be found full 
small to do business — for example, the Congress of 
the United States. It has been said that local 
preachers have local ideas and local prejudices; 
and if they were admitted into the clerical council, 
they would corrupt the church and overturn the 
itinerant plan ! To which we answer by the same 
mode of reasoning, the itinerant preachers have 
itinerant ideas and itinerant prejudices. And how 
can they legislate for local churches without a 
minute knowledge of their situation and their pecu- 
liar difficulties ? Be that as it may, we have no 
desire to take upon us the care of all the churches, 
and the awful responsibility of governing the church 
of God, which he purchased with his own blood. 
We do, however, wish to understand and exercise 
our rights as Christians and Methodist preachers, 
and be able to defend, upon the grounds of ScrijJ- 
ture, reason and common sense, whatever is found in 
the system of Methodism : that the two armies of 
the Shulamite may be able to hold the position as- 
signed them, and with harmonious energy and un- 
wearied diligence press towards the mark for the 
prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. 


" We have the honor and happiness to be, with 
high consideration and great esteem, your fellow 
laborers in the bonds of the gospel. 
"On behalf of the conference, 

"Wm. Bellamy, President pro tern. 
"Jos. B. Hinton, Secretary. 

" December 7th, 1821." 

The language of this address is the language of 
men who felt that their rights were not safe. The 
rule of which they complained applied to them 
alone, as a distinct order of men in the church ; 
they doubted the right of the General Conference 
to enact or adopt such a rule with respect to 
them; and fearing that the same authority might 
encroach still further upon their right, such was the 
first step they took to make manifest their views 
with regard to those rights. It will be perceived 
that they complain of the stretch of power exer- 
cised by the General Conference in adopting what 
they call "the Spirit-making rule," yet they ask for 
no repeal of that rule, but modestly inquire after 
their rights, and of the propriety of being repre- 
sented by authority delegated by their suffrages in 
that council which had ventured to adopt a rule for 
their spiritual government. The address reached 
the Virginia Annual Conference, and upon being 
read, one of the members moved that it be thrown 
under the table, but Bishop McKendree, who oc- 
cupied the chair, interposed, saying, "Feelings, 
brethren, men's feelings must be respected." The 
address was laid upon the table, and when it was 


taken up and considered an answer was ordered to 
be sent to the petitioners, but through some man- 
agement or unaccountable delay, the answer was 
not received by the Roanoke District Conference 
until two conference years had passed away. 

At the session of the Roanoke District Confer- 
ence, held at Whitaker s chapel in 1822, a resolu- 
tion was passed authorizing the secretary to for- 
ward a copy of the address "to the Bishops and 
Virginia Annual Conference" to the several Dis- 
trict Conferences of local preachers throughout the 
United States, together with a circular letter ac- 
companying the same. The design in forwarding 
these documents or addresses to the District Con- 
ferences was to bring the attention of their brethren 
abroad to a candid consideration of their common 
rights as ministers in the church of their choice. 
The circular is addressed 

To the several District Conferences of the Local Preach- 
ers of the Methodist Episcopal Church: 

In the economy of Methodism this conference 
readily perceive much to praise, much to admire 
on the one hand, and on the other much to censure, 
much to deplore. The prominent features of our 
system, our doctrines, our episcopacy, our itinerant 
plan, our general rules and usages, are so scrip- 
tural, so apostolic, and contain so much of primi- 
tive simplicity and piety, that they successfully 
challenge the whole world for a comparison, and 
afford us no little exultation that we are members 


of a church so evangelical, so apostolical. These, 
under the divine blessing, have suddenly caused 
her to look "forth as the morning, fair as the moon, 
clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with ban- 
ners ;" and have marked her victorious course in the 
Redeemer's cause with a lucid glory, unequaled 
since the illustrious founders of Christianity entered 
upon their eternal reward. In these ever to be 
held sacred features it would be more than sacrilege 
to wish an innovation. But then on the other hand 
the enormous prerogatives with which the itine- 
rancy invested themselves are at variance with "the 
refinement and liberality of the country and age in 
which we live," and contrary to the plainest max- 
ims of common justice. Those who serve the 
church in the holy office of the ministry certainly 
deserve to be honored; and no ministers upon the 
face of the earth can possibly have stronger claims 
to the highest consideration than our brethren of 
the itinerancy, yet we cannot discover either reason 
or propriety in their uniting in themselves solely the 
entire executive, legislative and judicial powers of 
the church, and that, too, without assigning any 
limits or checks or accountability for the due 
exercise thereof. 

Thus in truth and fact the local ministry of our 
cmirch — although so numerous, and enriched with 
so much talent, experience, zeal, influence, use- 
fulness and devotedness to the church of their 
best affections, and containing such numbers, who 
nursed and guarded her in infancy and child- 



hood with the tenderest solicitude and faithfulness, 
and aided in giving her a name and a place among 
the churches, by the intensity of their labors and 
exposure — have been driven into local life to seek 
that repose which worn out lungs, premature decays 
and complicated afflictions demanded. These 
tottering remnants and frosted locks of other days, 
in common with their other local brethren, are not 
allowed by the traveling connection to be more than 
mere ciphers in point of authority^ nor Jo rnaintain 
any better than a kind of proscribed standing. This 
unprecedented intolerance, the more remarkable 
because jnyifiious, exists in no other church; nor in 
any one except ours does less than one-third of the 
ministry assume the entire control, to the utter ex- 
clusion of the lar°er co-ordinate branch from even 
a voice in~ the making of the very laws by which 
themselves are to be governed. Many noble, gen- 
erous spirits in the itinerancy regret, as well as 
ourselves, the retention of this most absurd princi- 
ple in our Discipline, and would hail that day as a 
new and happy era in Methodism in which it shall 
be expunged. 

As local men we are indeed allowed to preach, 
under certain circumstances; but however suc- 
cessful our labors or urgent the necessity may be, 
we have no authority to form a society or to receive 
a member. We are permitted to receive ordination, 
after a lengthy probation, provided we can make it 
appear that our official services are needed ; and 
veiy latterly we have been rescued from long neg- 


lected obscurity by the grant of the Local Confer- 
ence Charter; but then, as if unable to govern our- 
selves, the presidency thereof is committed to an 
itinerant minister, who may, whenever he pleases, 
attempt to prevent the freedom of investigation 
and stifle complaint. Such doings have already 
been seen. 

Does the just discontent of the locality arrest the 
attention of the General Conference ? As if to drive 
us into silent submission, the "Spirit" making rule 
is hung over us in terrorem! Do the South and 
West and North importune the General Conference 
for the acknowledgment of our rights ? To pacify 
or amuse us, an ignis faluus toy, the District Con- 
ference, is given us. Do the deliberations of the 
District Conference turn on our injuries and the 
remedy? Certain members of the powers that be 
threaten to strip us of even this little brief au- 
thority! Do we as a recognizing conference re- 
spectfully spread the grievances of the local order 
before the bishops and members of an Annual 
Conference, and ask information, advice and re- 
lief? We are not even favored with a reply ! Here 
we pause — here close the painful detail — all our 
wrongs we " must not, will not tell." 

And what is the fault of the local preachers to 
merit all this contumely? Are we aliens to the 
commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the cov- 
enant of promise ? or are we indeed " incapable 
of self-government ? or must we go in quest of an- 
other Moses to lead us from our neglected and pro- 



scribed condition into that state of privilege and 
usefulness to which our numbers and common jus- 
tice entitle us ? Providence did, indeed, open the 
auspicious door to our itinerant brethren for the 
restoration of entire confidence, harmony and cor- 
dial co-operation between themselves and us when 
the District Conference measure was under discus- 
sion. If these conferences had only been made a 
little more efficient, and one "delegate" from 
each had been allowed to take a seat in the " Gen- 
eral Council," with a like number of representa- 
tives from the Annual Conferences, it would have 
formed a representation so equal and so reasonable 
that it would for ever have silenced the voice of 
murmur ; a concession, magnanimous, would have 
cemented indissolubly the bonds of concord and 
ministerial attachment between us. This, how- 
ever, has been left undone. Justice and self-respect 
now equally urge us to claim it as a right. 

Notwithstanding the native inanity of the Dis- 
trict Conferences, brethren, we may make them 
immensely important. They are pregnant with 
events of the most momentous kind, and bid fair to 
be harbingers of good things to come. They are 
admirably calculated to bring the local preachers 
together, to form intimate acquaintances ; and, 
moreover, those heretofore held within the Roanoke 
District have been largely blessed, both to preachers 
and people. Therefore, this conference do entreat 
you, dear brethren, with respectful earnestness, if 
possible attend them in your respective districts; 


assured as we are a rich harvest of solid satisfaction 
will be } r our certain reward. The Local Confer- 
ence of the Roanoke District, in transmitting to 
your respective conferences copies of our Minutes 
and of our Address to the Bishops and members of 
the Virginia Conference, together with this circular 
letter, seek a reciprocation of the favor. We shall 
be extremely gratified and obliged by receiving in 
exchange copies of the Minutes of your respective 
conferences, together with any communication you 
may think proper to make. And we particularly 
ask a friendly correspondence, disclosing such 
views as you may have, or may form, concerning 
the claims and the course which the great body of 
local preachers in America ought to pursue to ob- 
tain their formal acknowledgment. In the interim 
would it not be very advisable that each District 
Conference, at its next meeting, prepare a respect- 
ful memorial, to be forwarded to the next General 
Conference, claiming our most obvious rights, 
either a "charter sufficiently clear to secure there- 
after our official dignity and domestic tranquillity 
from any further encroachments, or else to share 
equally in the councils of the Church?" 

[Signed] Jos. B. Hinton, 

Secretary of the Conference. 
Washington, N. C, January 1st, 1823. 

The above circular address sets forth the views 
of the local ministry with regard to the church of 
their choice with clearness, and likewise states 
their grievances with that candor which the nature 


of the circumstances demanded. Viewing them- 
selves as virtually proscribed, so far as authority 
in the church, or weight, or influence in the rule- 
making department was concerned, they made this 
appeal to their brethren abroad who were similarly 
situated, that they might make one common cause 
together; and by such union increase their strength 
to vindicate their rights, and plead for a redress of 
their grievances. 

There is one item in the "economy of Method- 
ism" in which they say they "perceive much to 
admire," that draws the particular attention of the 
reader, and that item is "Episcopacy." At this 
period of the agitation of the subject of reform in 
the M. E. Church but little complaint had been 
made on account of the episcopal office, which had 
been imposed upon the church at its organization 
under the sanction of Mr. Wesley's name. In 1790 
the Rev. James O'Kelly and his colleagues had 
opposed the stretch of authority exercised by Mr. 
Asbury, but in vain ; for he tells us, "Francis was 
born and nurtured in the land of kings and bishops, 
and that which is bred in the bone is hard to be 
got out of the flesh." 

But in the year 1826, when that masterly treatise 
appeared, the "History and Mystery of Methodist 
Episcopacjr, by the Rev. Alexander M'Caine," 
which showed most clearly that the episcopal 
office had been foisted upon the church in America 
contrary to the desire or intention of Mr. Wesley, 
the friends of reform no longer viewed it as an acl- 


mirable feature in Methodist economy, but re- 
garded it as spurious and altogether questionable 
as regarded its legality. 

To the foregoing address several District Con- 
ferences responded in the most friendly man- 
ner, and cheered onward the friends of reform ; 
but from some others the responses were cold and 
indifferent; and from the Huntsville Conference, 
which employed their presiding elder to pen their 
answer, who was said to be a "Scotchman of the 
old Tory school," they received downright insult. 
About this time it was intimated by some in high 
authority that the "Local Conference Charter" 
would be withdrawn, and the local ministry be- 
came seriously alarmed concerning the manner in 
which their rights were viewed by the powers that 
be. The itinerancy had discovered that the local 
ministry in their District Conferences, by conferring 
together, were disposed to inquire after their rights, 
and also to form a definite opinion with regard to 
the same, which was becoming fully manifested by 
the tenor of their circulars and memorials. 

At the meeting of the Roanoke District Confer- 
ence at Washington, in December, 1823, it was 
unanimously resolved to address the following me- 
morial to the General Conference that was to sit in 
the city of Baltimore in May, 1824, and also to for- 
ward a copy of the same to all the sister District 
Conferences : 


To the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, to he next holden in the city of Baltimore, in 
May, 1S24 : 

Dear Brethren, — With unusual solicitude we 
importune your patient, friendly and impartial de- 
liberations and resolves — deliberations and resolves 
which, in our humble opinion, vitally concern the 
harmony and peace of thousands. We charitably 
hope that in an order so sacred as yours, and in a 
body clothed with functions so heavenly, no indi- 
vidual will be found disposed to stifle our com- 
plaints, to disregard our lamentations, or to scoff" aty 
our equitable claims ; but we rather trust that you 
only wait to know our grievances, that in the plen- 
itude of your love and justice you may find oppor- 
tunity to relieve them all. Brethren, you have 
already done great things for us, whereof we are 
glad. The Local Conference Charter, which, by 
your giving and our receiving, has now become an 
unalienable right, upon the ground of mutual agree- 
ment, we hold with gratitude, and will guard in- 
violably. We feel a sort of new r creation by its influ- 
ence, a sort of resurrection from official death. If 
love the most animating, union the most enduring, 
deliberations the most important, investigations the 
most searching, and resolves the most laudable and 
useful, be fanciful figments in the Christian character, 
then we shall admit, and not until then, with our 
Huntsville brethren, that Local Conferences are mere 
" ignis fatuus toys," unworthy of our reception and of 
your wisdom, and in such case, with them we may 


ungratefully tell you to take back the childish toy. 
But, brettnen, we are persuaded that by this grant, 
just as it is composed, of a local body and an itin- 
erant head or president, you have laid a broad 
base for an extended and permanent union of the 
local and itinerant orders of our church ; and have 
so concentrated the energies of the local order as 
to make them of vastly additional importance to 
our connection and to the world. Burning as the 
ordeal is through which our characters pass annu- 
ally, neither this nor any other motive shall cause 
us, with our Huntsville brethren, to pant again for 
the sloth, the neglect, the flesh pots of Egypt ; but 
you, as our Moses, by giving us the charter, have 
led us through the Red sea. Carry us, lead us, or 
go with us a little further, and we will mutually 
share the delights of the promised land, and set 
peaceably and harmoniously together under the 
olive of heaven. We have some old Calebs among 
us who were with some of you, the veterans of 
former days, amid the wilderness, of America. 
That those aged heralds, at least, of the living God, 
ask a place at your side, not under your feet, nor 
over your heads, should not surprise you ; and 
should the hand of God shortly lead them up to 
heaven, you certainly will feel no hesitancy in 
admitting the Joshuas they may leave behind to a 
place in your armies, upon the ground of equal 
rights. Our wishes, our claims are but few, and, 
in our opinion, founded in principles of policy so 
reasonable and equitable that you cannot find it in 


your hearts to disallow them. First of all, we beg, 
or rather claim, as a matter of right, the removal 
from our Discipline of the rule or law prohibiting 
local preachers from distilling and retailing spirit- 
uous liquors, under certain penalties, not because 
the rule affects our interest, but, first, because we 
never subscribed to such a rule; secondly, we 
have not made it valid by any subsequent admis- 
sion or agreement;* and thirdly, it involves a prin- 
ciple which, as men, Americans and Christians, we 
can not, we will not admit, namely, that any power, 
whether in the hands of one man or many, has any 
implied, expressed or equitable right to make laws 
for our government without our consent or repre- 
sentation. If the principle involved in the creation 
of that law be admitted, laws may be multiplied to 
any extent for our government, and the same au- 
thority that creates may abolish, until our Disci- 
pline may be so mutilated or metamorphosed as to 
be any thing besides what it was when we sub- 
scribed to it. 

To guard against future encroachments of a simi- 
lar nature, and to place our church upon a more 
elevated and liberal ground, we humbly crave and 
firmly claim for our order the right of local repre- 
sentation in the General Conference of our church. 
The principle upon which this claim is founded, 
you acted upon in the Local Conference grant. 
The great object of our church government should 
be to maintain the most intimate union and har- 
mony between the two great orders peculiar to 


our church, itinerant and local. This object you 
wisely sought to secure, by uniting an itinerant 
head with a local body, in the Local Conference 
grant. Here the two orders, with their peculiar 
views, harmoniously blend in one ; and whatever 
may be the doubts of distrust or inexperience, we 
already perceive that where wisdom and goodness 
prevail, as we hope they ever will in these confer- 
ences, vast benefits will accrue from this union ; 
and we respectfully ask whether you do not accord 
with us in opinion that if this miniature effort to 
harmonize and unite the two orders has been pro- 
ductive of results so beneficial, whether an admis- 
sion of the local order, upon a fair ratio of repre- 
sentation, into the General Conference must not 
eventually produce a oneness of soul and of object, 
and vastly illuminate and strengthen the delibera- 
tions of that conference ? Not that we pretend 
that wisdom belongs to us, but we think you will 
admit with us that a concentration of ideas and 
feelings of men, scattered over a country so exten- 
sive as ours, and so variously experienced in the 
adventures of life and of nature, would vastly im- 
prove the deliberations of any deliberative body. 
Bat, brethren, when we modestly and affection- 
ately tell you that we ask, not as a privilege, but 
claim as a right, which we never expect to relin- 
quish, namely, a voice in making the laws by 
which we are to be governed, we entreat you not 
hastily to reproach us with an inordinate thirst for 
power. If we ask for power, "it is only to live in 


the elements of civil and religious freedom ; it is 
only to walk with you upon the same level along 
the road to heaven. In justification of your own 
wisdom, liberality and goodness — for the honor and 
interests of Methodism — for the success of the 
Redeemer's kingdom in these United States, never 
let it be said by an American that you were even 
willing to legislate, without their consent, for some 
thousands of your ministerial brethren, many of 
whom have long since taken all the grades of pro- 
motion which our church allows, except that of the 
bishopric, and have served with honor the highest 
throughout the war. The events of twenty, thirty or 
forty years will tell their honorable history, when their 
spirits have fled to heaven and their remains are 
motionless in the dust, which will soon be the case 
with many of them. But for the stern demands of 
principle, and their ardent devotion to the Saviour's 
kingdom, they would no more trouble you with a 
word or a sigh, but patiently wait the hour when 
you would feel entirely willing to join them in hal- 
lelujah, hallelujah to God and to the Lamb, what- 
ever your scruples may now be about deliberating 
with them here. Brethren, we cheerfully admit that 
hitherto in this great matter you have been gov- 
erned by policy which you thought best, and not 
by lordly views over God's heritage. But time and 
experience will generally ameliorate and improve 
the best inventions of men, and we respectfully 
beseech you, in the disposal of this appeal to your 
justice and magnanimity, in support of a radical im- 



provement in ours, to exercise that moderation, 
love and prayer which accompanied its creation. 

Brethren, suffer not yourselves to suspect the 
purity of our motives ; number us not with wild 
adventurers on hazardous experiments. You can- 
not help perceiving that if we err, it is an excessive 
devotion to the vital principles of primitive Meth- 
odism. Much as we confide in your love and 
wisdom, any departure from her ancient laws we 
scrutinize, and only ask the privilege to join you in 
making her stakes strong, and in rearing high her 
invulnerable bulwarks ; and upon the most sacred 
dictates of principle and love we beseech you not 
hastily to conclude that you have no need of us. 

Had we been governed by views of ambition, 
long since we should have endeavored not only to 
rival you in the estimation of our lay brethren, but 
to obstruct your progress in your itinerant career. 
But where is the hand among us that has not ad- 
ministered cheerfully to the necessities of our itin- 
erant brethren ? Have our hearts been less open 
to receive them than our doors? And what tongue 
among us has failed to advocate their cause ? 
Brethren, you certainly will consider us of some 
use in the household of God. Say not then, we 
again beseech you, by refusing our claims, that you 
have no need of us. We wish with you to live and 
die. But we again repeat, modestly, affectionately, 
and firmly, that we never expect to revoke our 
claims. Brethren, abolish the rule alluded to, and 
give us an equal voice in making the laws by which 


we are to be governed, and in so doing you will 
honor yourselves in the estimation of discerning 
men ; place on elevated principles the policy of 
our church; promote the interest of the Redeemer's 
kingdom, and unite in one two great bodies which 
now feel an alarming and widening severance. 
The oldest man among you never did, nor the 
youngest never will be required to give a voice or 
a vote on a more important and perhaps ominous 
question to our church than that comprised in this 
address. And may He who does all things well 
rule over and govern your resolves in this matter. 
Henry Holmes, President. 

Joseph B. Hinton, Secretary. 

How calm, how courteous, and how dignified is 
the foregoing address ! How christianlike is the 
spirit that it breathes ! Penned and adopted by 
Americans who inhaled the pure air of repub- 
licanism, it sets forth their views of their rights in 
a clear and lucid manner. The mind is at once 
struck with the similarity of the doctrines therein 
laid down and of those of our American ancestors 
that protested against the celebrated "tea tax and 
stamp act," which produced the American revolu- 
tion, and eventuated in the establishment of the 
liberties of our country. Notwithstanding the 
charitable spirit of this memorial, and the highly 
respectable and pious body from which it emana- 
ted, there have been found men who have shown 
themselves willing to impugn the motives that gave 
it birth, and to ascribe to the friends of reform 


designs and intentions unworthy of the Christian 
name. It has been urged by the enemies of reform 
that " the Spirit-making rule," which had been 
made for the government of the local ministers 
alone, stood opposed to their temporal interests ; 
and hence their opposition to the same. But let 
the truth-loving reader bear in mind the reasons 
assigned by those memorialists why they prayed 
for a "removal" of that rule — "not because the 
rule affected our interest, but, first, because we never 
subscribed to such a rule ; secondly, we have not 
made it valid by any subsequent admission or 
agreement ; and, thirdly, it involves a principle 
which, as men, Americans and Christians, we can- 
not, we will not admit, namely, that any power, 
whether in the hands of one man or many, has any 
implied, expressed, or equitable right to make laws 
for our government without our consent or repre- 
sentation." Here, then, is the clear American 
principle laid down. And the writer would ask, 
what American heart can find fault with it ? 

The memorial was the prayer of the local minis- 
ters alone ; they spread their petition before the 
General Conference with respect to their own rights. 
Hitherto the question of the rights of the laity had 
been but little agitated in Carolina. But in other 
parts of the Union they were equally active in set- 
ting forth their claims as Christians, and demand- 
ing their rights to representation in the department 
of the church in which rules were enacted for 
their government. The local ministry of the 


church, in many parts of the United States, were 
equally alive to their rights; and circular letters 
were written and distributed by the friends of re- 
form, for the purpose of promoting and encouraging 
a union of effort among them in petitioning the 
ensuing General Conference to grant them the ex- 
ercise of their rights, "a voice in making the laws" 
by which they were to be governed. 

Among the writers that came forward at this 
stage of the controversy, the Rev. Nicholas Snethen 
and Rev. A. Shinn were prominent. The produc- 
tions of these distinguished divines shed much light 
upon the question at issue, and led many to an 
honest and candid examination of the subject, who 
had heretofore supposed they possessed no ecclesi- 
astical rights. The opponents of reform were not 
idle. Management and care were exercised in the 
Annual Conferences in order to secure the election 
of such men as delegates to the General Confer- 
ence of 1824 as were known to be opposed to the 
spirit and design of reform. Nor were their labors 
unsuccessful. Upon the meeting of the "General 
Conference it was evident that the anti-reformers 
were in the majority. On the fourth day of the 
, session a motion was made to appoint a committee 
to whom should be referred petitions and memo- 
rials from the laity. The yeas and nays being 
called for, there were in the negative sixty, affirma- 
tive fifty-three, the vote fairly showing the spirit of 
the conference. But this damped not the courage 
of the friends of reform. Their course, like their 


principles, was onward. For, says a distinguished 
reformer, "although there was a small majority of 
the late General Conference decidedly opposed to 
an equitable church representation, yet there were 
many who boldly advocated the measure with ar- 
guments so cogent and language so eloquent that 
in any other place and before any other judges they 
must have prevailed." 



Meeting of Reformers in Baltimore. — Baltimore Union Society 
formed. — Formation of the Roanoke Union Society; — Its Con- 
stitution and Circular. — Trial and defence of Rev. W. W. Hill. 

Upon the opening of the session of the General 
Conference in the city of Baltimore, on the 1st of 
May, 1824, petitions and memorials from different 
places, as well as the memorial from the Roanoke 
District Conference, all praying for a change in the 
order of the church government, were received, 
read, referred and reported upon. After a delay 
of some days, the committee on these memorials 
and petitions reported ; and it was finally decided 
by vote that an answer, in the form of a General 
Conference circular, signed by the bishops, should 
be given to the petitioners. 

In this celebrated circular address of the Gen- 
eral Conference there is much art and ingenuity 
resorted to for the purpose of evading the points 
directly at issue. The sophistry used is alto- 
gether unworthy the dignity of so respectable an 
ecclesiastical body. 

In order to stave off the main questions, and give 
them the "go by," they say, "But if by 'rights and 
privileges' it is intended to signify something foreign 
from the institutions of the church, as we received 
them from our fathers, pardon us if we know no such 

rights, if we do not comprehend such privileges." 



The rights and privileges claimed by the petitioners 
were well understood by the members of that body, 
for they had been clearly set forth, and could appear 
to none in an ambiguous light. The whole mystery 
of the case may be resolved into these few words, 
the General Conference was not disposed to admit 
those ''rights and privileges," and therefore denied 
them. It is not the intention or design of the writer 
to enter into a review of the positions assumed in 
the circular, but he will offer a paragraph from a 
review of the same by the Rev. James Smith : 

"Therefore, if the authors of the circular 'know 
no such rights,' it appears to be time they had 
looked more closely into this question. ' The 
institutions of the church as we received them from our 
fathers,'' is a trite and very convenient topic. It has 
been the plea of error in other churches also. But 
those who derive their principles from reason and 
revelation are not usually in so great need of it. 
Beside, in the case at issue even that plea, when 
urged as a ground of right, is doubtless very flimsy; 
for the ecclesiastical polity" of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church has been, in general, a creature of 
change from the beginning. See the account which 
Mr. Wesley gives of the origin of his power. See, 
also, every history of Methodism ever published in 
the world." 

Again says the same writer, " How imposing is 
the ' circular,' but how illusory the boasted ground of 
constitutional obligation upon the laity, when fairly 
'considered! when fairly exposed !" 


Thus far the efforts of the friends of reform in 
the government of the M. E. Church had been 
foiled ; but as it was their spiritual home, the 
church of their choice, they were not disposed to 
recede from the position they had taken ; but trust- 
ing in the justice and rectitude of their cause, they 
resolved to redouble their efforts. To the action 
of that General Conference they had looked with 
deep solicitude, and when they saw their claims 
and petitions so ungracefully set aside in the circu- 
lar of the same, they boldly resolved to move for- 
ward, and their practical motto seemed to be, "we 
never expect to revoke our claims." 

After the rise of the General Conference, a meet- 
ing was held in the city of Baltimore on the 21st 
of May, 1824, by a number of the itinerant and 
local ministers and laymen of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, convened for the purpose of adopt- 
ing such measures as in their judgment should be 
best calculated to effect an improvement in the 
government of the church. Dr. S. K. Jennings 
was called to the chair, and Francis Waters, D. D., 
was appointed Secretary — when the following reso- 
lutions were adopted : 

Resolved, first, To institute a periodical publica- 
tion, entitled the Mutual Rights of the Ministers 
and Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
to be conducted by a committee of ministers and 

Secondly, To raise societies in all parts of the 
United States, whose duty it shall be to disseminate 


the principles of a well balanced church govern- 
ment, and to correspond with each other. 

Thirdly, To appoint a committee of their own 
body to draft a circular addressed to the ministers 
and members of the M. E. Church, and to forward 
the same forthwith to all parts of the United States. 

The following persons were accordingly ap- 
pointed on said committee : — Dr. S. K. Jennings, 
Baltimore; Dr. John French, Norfolk; W.Smith, 
New York; Gideon Davis, Georgetown, D. C; 
John W. Boardly and P. B. Hopper, Esq., Eastern 
Shore, Maryland. The committee appointed for 
the purpose issued the following 

Circular addressed to the Ministers and Members of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. 

An expectation was entertained by the friends of 
reform attached to the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in the United States, that the General Conference 
of 1S24 would have made some important and salu- 
tary improvement in the government ; that the con- 
gregated wisdom and experience of that body would 
have renounced all pretensions to govern the 
church without her consent, and that by a well- 
timed measure they would have paved the way for 
an equitable church representation. But we are 
sorry to say that our hopes have not been realized, 
and that very little has been done favorable to 
these views. 

In consequence of this disappointment, and with 
an intention to prevent any evils which it may 


have a tendency to produce, it is thought advisa- 
ble to address a circular to all the friends of reform 
in the connection, exhorting them not to suffer these 
unpleasant circumstances to alienate their affec- 
tions from the church, nor to induce them to leave 
her communion, but rather to consider them as admo- 
nitions calling the more loudly upon all her friends 
to cleave to her to the last extremity, and to unite 
as one man in a mutual effort to obtain, by the voice 
of a majority of the ministry and membership, a 
representative form of church government, which 
shall extend to the people as well as to the preachers. 
This enterprise will certainly be accelerated by 
promoting the circulation of such periodical publi- 
cations as are of a respectable and redeeming char- 
acter ; and by raising societies whose duty it shall 
be to disseminate the principles of religious liberty, 
which need only to be known to insure their adop- 
tion ; each society appointing a corresponding com- 
mittee to communicate its operations to such simi- 
lar institutions as may be formed throughout the 
United States. 

There can be no question as to the efficiency and 
final result of these measures. They must speed- 
ily eventuate in the accomplishment of the neces- 
sary reform, and consequently in the union and 
stability of our Zion. The effects produced in the 
last four years fully justify this expectation, inas- 
much as the late General Conference was nearly 
equally divided, and that too notwithstanding all 
the opposition to reform ; and it is our decided 


opinion that if the elections held at the Annual 
Conferences south and west of the Susquehannah 
had been conducted in the usual manner, without 
recourse to management, the majority in the Gen- 
eral Conference of 1824 would have been of a very- 
different character. We are sorry to add, more- 
over, that those ministers who, by the management 
referred to, were excluded from seats in the Gen- 
eral Conference are such as are generally consid- 
ered the ablest members of their respective Annual 
Conferences. From these facts we may safely in- 
fer that the fallow ground of the great work of im- 
provement is already broken up, and that at the 
next General Conference we may expect to realize 
our hopes. 

Besides, in almost every section of this vastly 
extended community there are enlightened and 
pious men who are ready to put their shoulders to 
the work, so that the efforts which we are now 
about to make will be extensive and simultaneous, 
and well calculated to effect a reformation without 
endangering the unity of the body. We shall move 
forward hand in hand, whilst hundreds of the most 
important men belonging to the itinerancy bid us 
God speed, waiting only to hear the voice of the 
people, and they will co-operate with us. 

Attempts have been made to alarm the ignorant 
with fears lest a reformation should darken the 
prospect of itinerant ministers and drive them from 
the work. Upon this subject the feelings of Meth- 
odists are one — all unite in one common purpose 


to perpetuate and support the itinerant ministry. 
Their rights and ours are mutual, and we, the com- 
mittee selected by our brethren for the purpose of 
sending forth this circular, call upon every depart- 
ment of our community to unite with us in assert- 
ing and defending the mutual rights of the ministers 
and members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
S. K. Jennings, Chairman. 
John French, Secretary. 

At the same time the Baltimore Union Society 
was formed, which adopted the following 


Whereas in all equitable ecclesiastical govern- 
ments it is an acknowledged principle that each 
member of the community should be secured in his 
rights as a Christian believer, one of which is a 
participation in the enactment of such rules and 
regulations as are necessary to preserve the purity, 
peace and prosperity of the body, either personally 
or by his representative ; and, whereas the govern- 
ment of the Methodist Episcopal Church is so or- 
ganized as to give to the traveling preachers the 
sole power "to make rules and regulations for our 
church," to the entire exclusion of the local preach- 
ers and the whole body of the people ; and, where- 
as a large number of the itinerant and local 
preachers and of the laity desire to have the govern- 
ment of our church so altered as to extend repre- 
sentation to the excluded ministers and to the lay 
members, it is therefore deemed proper, in order to 


ascertain the number of persons in the Methodist 
Church who are friendly to such alteration, to raise 
societies in all parts of these United States, to cor- 
respond with each other on such subjects as they 
may believe calculated to improve our church poli- 
ty; therefore, 

Resolved, That we, the undersigned members of 
the Methodist Church in the city of Baltimore, do 
form ourselves into a Union Society for the above 
named purposes, and do agree to be governed by 
the following Constitution : 

Article 1. This society shall be denominated, 
the Union Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in the city of Baltimore. 

Art. 2. The officers of this society shall consist 
of a President, two Vice Presidents, a Treasurer, 
a Secretary, a Corresponding Committee of three 
members, an Editorial Committee of four ministers 
and four laymen, all of whom shall be elected an- 
nually by ballot. 

Art. 3. The President, or in his absence, one of 
the Vice Presidents, or in the absence of all three, 
a President pro tern, shall preside at every meeting 
of the society; and every meeting shall be opened 
and closed with prayer. 

Art. 4. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to 
receive and hold the funds of the society, subject to 
its directions, and to render annually a statement of 
receipts and disbursements, and faithfully to deliver 
over to his successor in office all the funds, books, 
papers and effects of this society in his possession. 



Art. 5. It shall be the duty of the Secretary to 
keep a record of the proceedings of the society, 
and perform such other services as the society may 

Art. 6. It shall be the duty of the Corresponding 
Committee to keep a record of all similar societies 
of which they gain information, their location and 
numbers ; to correspond with them from time to 
time as occasion may require ; and to lay before 
the society at its meetings all information in their 

Art. 7. It shall be the duty of the Editorial 
Committee to inspect all original and selected matter 
that maybe presented for publication in the "Mutual 
Rights," and to suffer no matter to be published in 
that work until it shall have received the approba- 
tion of a majority of said committee ; to employ a 
person to print the necessary number of copies of 
forty octavo pages each per month; to solicit sub- 
scribers and patrons for the publication; and gene- 
rally to do all matters and things which, in their 
opinion, are calculated to promote the circulation 
and usefulness of the work. 

Art. 8. An annual meeting of the society shall 
be held on the first Tuesday in July in each year, 
and after having transacted such business as may 
be submitted for their consideration, shall proceed 
to elect their officers for the ensuing year. On 
the election of the Editorial Committee, every mem- 
ber of a similar society in any other place, and 
any brother from a distance, known to be friendly 


to reform, shall, if present, be entitled to a vote in 
the same manner as any member residing in 

Art. 9. A monthly meeting of the society shall 
be held on the first Tuesday of each month. 

Art. 10. Any member of the Methodist Church 
may become a member of this Society by a vote 
of the same, and by signing the Constitution ; and it 
is expected of every person wishing to withdraw 
from the association to signify his desire to the 

Art. 11. This Constitution may be altered or 
amended at any regular meeting by a majority of 
two-thirds of the members present, provided such 
alteration shall have been proposed at a previous 

The position taken by the Baltimore brethren 
was one that inspired courage in every quarter 
among the friends of reform. Their association 
they denominated a "Union Society," we presume 
from the fact that it was a union of effort by the 
ministry and laity. The periodical issued by them 
for similar reasons was called the "Mutual Rights." 
The Editorial Committee entrusted with the publi- 
cation of the "Mutual Rights" entered upon the dis- 
charge of the duties assigned them with the follow- 
ing address: # 


It will be expected of the Editorial Committee, 
at the commencement of the arduous and responsi- 
ble duty assigned to them by their brethren, to give 


some account of the motives which have influenced 
them to accept the appointment; and of the princi- 
ples by which they are to be governed in the publi- 
cation of the "Mutual Rights." "With a view, 
therefore, to gratify this reasonable expectation, the 
committee take occasion to assure their readers that 
the paramount consideration which has induced 
them to embark in this service is a settled con- 
viction that an acknowledgment of the rights of 
each department in the church is essential to the 
well being of the whole ; and that the future pros- 
perity of Methodism in these United States mate- 
rially depends on such a modification of our church 
government as shall put every Methodist in full 
possession of his rights and privileges as a Chris- 
tian believer. 

As individuals they have long deplored the un- 
scriptural and injudicious monopoly of power that 
has placed in the hands of the itinerant ministry 
alone the government of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church ; and after a careful investigation of its 
nature and tendencies, taking into view the en- 
lightened state of society in this country, they are 
persuaded that nothing less than an improved gov- 
ernment, which will secure representation to the 
ivhole church, and a mutual participation in all her 
concerns, will produce tranquillity. It will be ob- 
vious then to every reader that the motives which 
have influenced the committee are neither sordid nor 
selfish, but liberal and disinterested, and that the 
principles by which they intend to be governed in 


editing the contemplated work are the mutual 
rights of the ministers and members of our church. 
The chief object of the publication is to realize to 
the church a practical understanding of the title it 
assumes. This can be done only through the medium 
of a free press. 

The committee are confident that if the Method- 
ist people have a suitable opportunity to compare 
the arguments adduced on both sides of the great 
question of reform, permanent harmony may be 
established among them. Without this they axe 
equally confident that the difference of sentiment 
which now so extensively prevails will accelerate 
an equally extensive alienation of affection, and 
ultimately terminate in great and ruinous seces- 
sions from the church. That the Methodist Church 
is in a state of agitation is a well known fact ; and 
such a state of things calls loudly upon every friend 
of religion to inquire into the causes which produce 
it, and to labor for the restoration of harmony and 
the preservation of brotherly love. To be pre- 
pared, however, to perform a becoming part in this 
important work, it is necessary to enter upon a calm 
and dispassionate consideration of the subjects in 
dispute. Modest men will feel no difficulty in ad- 
mitting the truth of this position ; for it is impossi- 
ble for any man wisely to estimate his own opin- 
ions when they differ from those of other men, until 
he shall have first subjected them to a respectful 
and scrutinous comparison with the opinions of 
those who think differently. 


To the doctrines of religion as taught by Wesley 
and Fletcher, and as embodied in the Discipline of 
our church, the committee fully subscribe. The 
services of the church, such as extemporaneous 
prayer and preaching, sacrament of the Lord's sup- 
per, baptism, love-feasts, band-meeting and class- 
meeting, have their entire approbation. Class- 
meeting, particularly, in the opinion of the commit- 
tee, is the great means, next to the gospel itself, by 
which spirituality and order are to be perpetuated 
among our people. Upon this subject they must 
be permitted to say they have been trained so long 
under these doctrines and services that they feel 
for them all those attachments so natural to men in 
similar circumstances. And in fact it is because 
of these and the spirituality of the ministry and 
membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
that they adhere so firmly to her communion. 

It is not in the power of the committee at present 
to give exact information of every thing which the 
publication will" contain. A periodical miscellany 
admits of a variety of subjects, and when continued 
for a length of time receives many communications 
unknown to the editors at the commencement of the 
work. It may be said, however, in general terms, 
the "Mutual Rights" will contain essays on church 
government, biographical sketches of eminent and 
pious persons, lectures on divinity and practical 
Christianity, interesting narratives, philosophical in- 
vestigations, and a variety of other matter, both 
amusing and instructive. Well written communi- 
■ 5* 


cations on any of the above subjects will be thank- 
fully received, and the utmost impartiality observed 
by the committee. 

S. K. Jennings, Chairman. 

The writers who contributed to the columns of 
the "Mutual Rights" were ministers and members 
of the highest standing and ability. Distinguished 
for their talent, their learning, and their usefulness, 
they were well acquainted with the history as well 
as with the defects of the government of the M. E. 
Church ; their essays upon church polity being 
clear, logical and scriptural, justly commended 
themselves to the consideration of every candid 
and unprejudiced member of the Methodist com- 
munion. They were men whose very names exer- 
cised a salutary influence in favor of the cause 
which they advocated. Of these men a Snethen 
and a French have gone to their reward, but their 
names yet live embalmed in the memory of the 
virtuous and the good who knew them ; and to the 
lives and acts of their compeers who survive them 
we trust that history will not be slow to do am- 
ple justice. And strange as it may appear, yet 
such is the melancholy fact, that these men who 
were "burning and shining lights," as well as an 
ornament and an honor to the church to which they 
belonged, were traduced by many of their brethren 
that differed with them in opinion upon church 
polity; their motives were aspersed, and their 
names to all intents and purposes cast out as evil. 
All this was done, not for immorality, not for any 


violation of the law of God, but for an honest dif- 
ference of opinion with regard to expediency con- 
cerning church polity. The powers that be in the 
M. E. Church had become offended, therefore per- 
secution raged. "Several of the anti-reformers 
availed themselves of the freedom of the columns 
of the 'Mutual Rights,' and wrote essays in vindi- 
cation of the Methodist government, as being of 
divine origin, and the only legitimate church gov- 
ernment on earth, and represented the reformers as 
'backsliders,' 'under the influence of base motives,' 
'enemies of Methodism,' 'opposers of God,' 'insti- 
gated by the devil,' &c. &c. Indeed this kind of 
abusive matter and 'mere declamation from anti- 
reformers, accumulated to such a degree that the 
Editorial Committee of the second volume were 
under the necessity of restricting those writers to 
argument alone."* 

The pious reader might ask what had become of 
that religion which is the love of God shed abroad 
in the heart by the Holy Ghost, and of that charity 
which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth 
all things, endureth all things ? But this is a ques- 
tion which must be left for decision to the Judge of 
all the earth. How strange is such conduct when 
compared with the spirit of the gospel, which is 
peace ! How painful, too, to the feelings of the 
reformers to receive such treatment from Christian 
brethren, principally ministers of the gospel, and 
that for opinion's sake alone. 

* See history of the Methodist Protestant Church, by Rev. J. R. 
Williams, page 129. 


A distinguished reformer in North Carolina, 
whilst his spirit was weighed down by the un- 
christian course pursued towards him by men pro- 
fessing Christianity, expressed himself to a friend 
thus : "Brother Speight, if it were not for the feel- 
ings of my heart I would be an infidel." 

During the latter part of the year 1S24 the friends 
of reform, in different parts of the United States, 
followed the example set them by the brethren at 
Baltimore, and having the same objects in view, 
formed themselves into Union Societies. After the 
organization of the Union Society at Baltimore, and 
the appeals and addresses of the same were circu- 
lated throughout the country, the question, of reform 
not only received a new impulse in North Carolina, 
but to a certain degree changed its aspect. The 
laity now came forward with their brethren of the 
local ministry, claiming their right to be heard, 
through representation, in the rule-making depart- 
ment of the church. Truth had been disseminated. 
The light had shined ; and by the exercise of "pri- 
vate judgment" they were now brought into action, 
and made common cause with the ministry to ef- 
fect a just reformation in the government of the 
church to which they belonged. 

At a meeting of a number of local ministers and 
laymen of Roanoke Circuit, held at Sampson's 
meeting-house, Halifax county, North Carolina, on 
the 6th day of November, 1 824, it was moved that 
the Rev. C. H. Hines open the meeting by prayer; 
after which the aged and venerable patriot of the 


American revolution, the Rev. William Price, was 
chosen chairman, and Levi H. McLean secretary. 

The object of the meeting being explained, and 
the names of those recorded who were in favor of 
forming a "Union Society," on the same principles 
of one lately established in the city of Baltimore, 
the society proceeded to elect its officers ; where- 
upon the Rev. E. B. Whitaker was elected presi- 
dent, and Exum Lewis vice president ; the Rev. 
Richard Davidson, Rev. Henry Hardy, and Rev. 
William Bellamy were appointed a corresponding 
committee; the Rev. James Hunter, the Rev. C. H. 
Hines, and Levi H. McLean a committee to draft a 
Constitution for the government of the society, to 
be presented at its next meeting ; also to write an 
address to the societies in the circuit, explanatory 
of the objects this society has in view. 

The names of the persons who joined the Union 
Society at this time were, 

Ministers — Rev. Wm. Price, Rev. Miles Smith, 
Rev. Wm. Bellamy, Rev. Jas. Hunter, Rev. C. H. 
Hines, Rev. E. B. Whitaker, Rev. Albriton Jones. 

Laymen — William E. Bellamy, David Morris, 
Thomas King, Levi H. McLe:^. 

The society appointed its next meeting to be 
held on the 4th Saturday in the same month, No- 
vember, at Bradford's meeting-house, and then 

Upon its meeting again at the time and place ap- 
pointed, the following persons united with the soci- 
ety, viz : Rev. Henry Bradford, John F. Bellamy, 


L. H. B. Whitaker, Absalom B. Whitaker, Henry 
B. Bradford, Spier W. Coffield, Lansford W. Scott, 
P. B. Wiley, Benjamin Hunter, E. B. Whitaker, jr., 
and Thomas Lowe. 

The Constitution, as drafted by the committee 
appointed at the preceding meeting, was presented 
and read, and after each article had been discussed, 
it was adopted in its present form. 


Man in his primeval state was the noblest work 
of God on this habitable globe. Although sin has 
entered into the world, and its deathlike effects 
have passed on all, yet many vestiges of the noble 
dignity of man remain, showing his superiority to 
all other creatures. On man is still placed the 
image of his Creator in some degree, and to him 
the guardian care of his God is shown. When it 
became necessary that the human family should be 
controlled by a code of laws, we immediately real- 
ize the condescending goodness of an all-wise Cre- 
ator, in furnishing them with such as were most 
conducive to order and happiness. And when an 
individual or set of men are placed as rulers over 
the multitude, it is in regard to their capacity and 
virtue. When the Israelites, in plain deviation 
from these just principles, exclaimed, "We will 
have a king," the Lord Jehovah showed them that 
the very inclination and consent of mind to such a 
course was Fraught with calamitous events to them 
and their children after them. The whole subject 



evinces to man that with his Creator there is no 
respect of persons. For when the great Redeemer 
unfolded to man the grand scheme of his redemp- 
tion, such was at once the conviction of its univer- 
sality that it was often called the common salvation. 
And when a serious controversy had arisen, as re- 
corded in the 15th chapter of the Acts of the Apos- 
tles, relative to the laws of its administration, we 
have explicitly the voice of the apostles and elders 
and brethren on the subject. It is evident that our 
Saviour inculcated the same principles when he 
said to his disciples, "One is your master, even 
Christ, and all ye are brethren." 

From an impartial view of these just, equal and 
scriptural principles, the inference seems to be irre- 
sistible that all men by nature are equal, and that 
none have a right to assume control but by the 
voice of general consent ; and as the rules and 
regulations of the Methodist Episcopal Church place 
the sole governing power in the hands of our itin- 
erant brethren, who have enacted laws for our gov- 
ernment without our consent, that infringe upon our 
civil privileges, while there remains to us no re- 
dress — we, therefore, deem it indispensable that the 
whole matter should be carefully and impartially ex- 
amined; and that the peace and prosperity of Zion 
depend greatly upon the forming of Union Societies 
among us ; and as our respected brethren of Balti- 
more have set us an example at once so laudable 
and necessary, we resolve, in imitation of them, to 
adopt the following articles and regulations for the 


government of the Roanoke Union Society, auxili- 
ary to the Union Society of Baltimore: 

Article 1. This society shall be composed of 
the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 
this circuit, together with others of other circuits 
who wish to become members here. 

Art. 2. This society shall be governed by a 
President and Vice President, who shall be chosen 
annually by ballot. 

Art. 3. There shall be a Secretary, and also a 
Corresponding Committee consisting of five mem- 
bers, chosen annually by nomination and election. 

Art. 4. This society shall meet once in six or 
twelve months, or oftener, if thought necessary, ac- 
cording to its determination, at such place as shall 
be fixed on. 

Art. 5. This society shall elect a Treasurer, 
who shall hold the funds of the society, subject to 
its call. 

Art. 6. It shall be the duty of each member of 
the society to pay an annual subscription of from 
twenty-five cents to one dollar, which money shall 
first defray the expenses of said society, and if any 
surplus, shall be appropriated to the publishing of 
tracts or pamphlets explanatory of the views and 
aims of the society, and for other useful purposes? 
tending to the extension of light and information. 

Art. 7. It shall be the duty of the Corresponding 
Committee to keep up a regular correspondence 
with the society at Baltimore, and with other socie- • 
ties or individuals, as this society may direct. 


Art. 8. At each meeting of the society the Cor- 
responding Committee shall lay before it the sub- 
stance of all their communications, and the answers 
respectively received. 

Art. 9. This Constitution shall be subject to 
such amendments and additions, annually, as a 
majority of two-thirds of the society shall judge to 
be expedient. 

Eli B. Whitaker, President. 
James Hunter, Secretary pro tern. 
L. H. B. Whitaker was elected treasurer and 
William E. Bellamy secretary ; Rev. William Bel- 
lamy, Rev. R. Davidson, Dr. John F. Bellamy, Ab- 
salom B. Whitaker and Philip B. Wiley were ap- 
pointed a committee of correspondence ; Rev. Wm. 
Bellamy, Rev. C H. Hines and Dr. J. F. Bellamy 
a committee to draft rules to govern the meetings of 
the society. 

The next meeting of the society was appointed 
to be held at Bradford's chapel on the first Satur- 
day in May, 1825. 

The society met at Bradford's chapel on the 30th 
of April instead of the first Saturday in May. After 
the journal of the last meeting had been read, a 
door was opened for the admission of such persons 
as wished to join the Union Society, when the fol- 
lowing brethren were received, viz : Rev. William 
W. Hill, of Matamuskeet circuit, Rev. Miles Nash, 
of Roanoke, James Whitaker, sr., and Richard H. 
Whitaker. The committee of correspondence re- 
ported no correspondence since the last meeting. 


The Rev. W. Bellamy, Exum Lewis and Dr. J. F. 
Bellamy were appointed an editorial committee to 
publish such pieces for this society as they may 
think will tend to promote a reformation in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, or promulgate the 
wishes and views of this society for that purpose. 
The Rev. James Hunter was appointed an agent 
to superintend the printing of all such documents, 
and authorized to apply to the treasurer for money 
to defray the expenses thereof, as the Constitution 

The next meeting of the society was appointed 
to be held at Bradford's chapel, on the 14th Octo- 
ber, 1825. The meeting closed in the usual form 
with prayer. 

The fourth meeting, which was the second an- 
nual meeting of the Roanoke Union Society, took 
place at Bradford's, pursuant to appointment, Octo- 
ber 14th. At this meeting the following brethren 
united with the society, viz: Richard Baxter, Spier 
Whitaker, James Brent, Wilson C. Whitaker, Jesse 
H. Simmons, Richard H. Whitaker, Henry Dog- 
gett, David Barrow, Burrows Carter, and Rev. 
Caswell Drake. At this meeting the society num- 
bered thirty-nine members. The doctrines of Mu- 
tual Rights had, through the agency and influence 
of the reformers, spread considerably in Carolina. 
The circulars and addresses of the committee of 
correspondence effected much good in enlisting the 
members of the Methodist communion in the com- 
mon cause. In order that the tenor of the doc- 



trines which they laid down, and the propositions 
set forth in their addresses, may be fairly under- 
stood, the first circular of the society is here 

Circular to the members of the Methodist Church in 
Roanoke District. 

Dear Brethren, — Your attention is respectfully 
invited to a momentous question, which is at pres- 
ent and has been for several years greatly agitated 
and freely discussed among politicians in church 
and state, both in the old and new world. This 
question involves at once the very principles of 
civil and religious liberty and equality. In an 
early period of our history such a thing as free dis- 
cussion was not agitated till the dawn of the Ameri- 
can revolution ; and even at that period we find 
that this discussion was peculiarly confined to 
political matters. But in times of more recent date 
light has gone forth, a spirit of free inquiry has been 
promoted to great and important lengths, which, in 
the estimation of hundreds, and perhaps of thou- 
sands, has resulted in the conviction that our church 
polity is not of the most equitable and judicious 
cast ; and an ardent solicitude is now felt and dis- 
played, in different sections of the country, for the 
modification of our system of church government, 
so far as to admit amongst us a general equality on 
the representative principle. 

On this subject the General Conference has been 
addressed in vain. The only alternative is an 



appeal to you to unite firmly and piously in an 
examination of the subject. 

To this end your brethren have met, have 
formed a society, and have appointed proper offi- 
cers and committees for the management of the 
society and for general correspondence. A Con- 
stitution for said society will be drafted forthwith, 
and be ratified at a meeting appointed to be held at 
Bradford's meeting-house on the fourth Saturday in 
this month. 

It becomes our duty, dear brethren, thus to ap- 
prise you, and to urge you by all the endearing ties 
of social concord to meet us there. We ardently 
wish you to take the subject into serious considera- 
tion. The great design is the promotion of truth 
in the accomplishment of the noble object above 
stated. Should there, however, be with any a sen- 
timent and feeling opposed to these measures, the 
subject is open for free and charitable discussion. 
This may lead to a fair understanding, and to a 
union of soul that will promote Zion's prosperity. 
You will understand that no intention exists to 
split or divide the church, but to form a Union 
Society for the purpose of communicating freely 
with one another, and thereby to diffuse light and 
knowledge relative to the nature and general bear- 
ing of our church polity. 

We are aware that many say that the socie- 
ties are not dissatisfied. This can only be known 
fairly by acquainting ourselves with the subject. 
Many who have examined the matter are convinced 


that great and important alterations can be made 
for the better ; and it is confidently believed that 
the sooner these can be effected the better it will 
be. We are sure that the time has arrived when 
the attempt ought to be made. We, therefore, 
firmly rely on your co-operation, and remain 
Yours, in the bonds of friendship, 
James Hunter, \ 
C. H. Hines, > Committee. 
L. H. McLean, ) 
The spirit of this address is such as the occasion 
alone called for. It abounds in no idle declama- 
tion, but calmly and dispassionately sets forth the 
object and views of the reformers. They most 
plainly declare that "the object is not to split or 
divide the church, but to form a Union Society, for 
the purpose of communicating freely with one an- 
other, and thereby to diffuse light and knowledge" 
upon church polity. But the exercise of such 
liberty gave offence to the advocates of itinerant 
prerogative, and menaces, rebuke and opposition 
were soon exhibited by the traveling preachers. 
The itinerant ministers could talk most loudly upon 
the principles of church' government, and in their 
General and Annual Conferences could feel at lib- 
erty to use the keenest invectives against princi- 
ples and denounce in the most unmeasured terms 
measures not agreeable to their judgment or views 
of sound policy, and none dare to say, why speak- 
est thou thus? Possessed of this right of "free 
discussion" and of "private judgment," they con- 


sidered it their right alone, and were quite unwill- 
ing to accord the same right to their brethren of the 
local ministry and laity. Nor had the two last 
named classes ever learned that they were not per- 
mitted to inquire into the nature of the government 
of the church, or express their sentiments freely con- 
cerning its polity; but they supposed that such 
rights would be conceded to them on all sides; but 
the sequel proves they were sadly mistaken. At 
the meeting of the Roanoke Union Society in April, 
1825, the Rev. William W. Hill, of Matamuskeet 
circuit, was received as a member. Brother Hill 
had been a minister for several years in the Meth- 
odist Church, had rendered her much service as an 
itinerant ; his zeal, learning, talents and eloquence 
had placed him amongst the most distinguished of 
her ministry; and although he had now become 
local, yet his love for the church of his choice was 
still warm, the lively interest he felt in her pros- 
perity was the same it ever had been ; and in be- 
coming a member of the Union Society his object 
was to do her good, and not harm. He was well 
acquainted with her ecclesiastical polity, had closely 
observed it in all its bearings and relations, and 
was well aware that it was susceptible of much 
improvement. Knowing the local ministry and the 
laity to be without any representation or voice 
whatever in the rule-making department of the 
church, as an impartial and candid Christian, he 
could but conceive that their rights were unjustly 
withheld from them; and as an American citizen 


and a patriot, he could not understand that he was 
violating any obligation, either civil or religious, in 
freely discussing this subject with his Christian 
brethren. This gave offence to "the powers that 
be" in the itinerancy; and brother Hill, before the 
meeting of the Union Society in November, and ere 
he had been enrolled as a member six months, had 
become the first object of itinerant persecution in 
Carolina. In the month of August he was sum- 
moned to trial by Rev. Benjamin Edge, assistant 
preacher on Matamuskeet circuit, and fairly acquit- 
ted of the charges. Brother Hill forwarded an ac- 
count of the whole transaction to the Union Society, 
and the editorial committee published and circu- 
lated the same under the title of 


To the ministers and members of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church in the United States. 

Dear Brethren, — The editorial committee of 
the Roanoke Union Society take the liberty re- 
spectfully to lay before yon the following docu- 
ments, transmitted to us by our worthy brother 
Hill, a local preacher in our church and a member 
of our Union Society. We regret that any of our 
church rulers should so misunderstand that rule in 
our church discipline which forbids the members 
of our church "endeavoring to sow dissensions in 
any of our societies, by inveighing against either 
our doctrine or discipline," as to think that it can 
with any propriety be applied to Mr. Hill or any 


other reformer, whether he be of the clergy or laitv, 
while merely contending for the right of suffrage. 

We have no rule in our book of "discipline" to 
justify the conduct of Mr. Edge as displayed in 
these documents. It is, therefore, a manifest abuse 
of power, and proves the necessity of the reforma- 
tion for which Mr. Hill and the reformers are now 

We do not hesitate to say that the conduct of 
Mr. Hill and the reformers, in contending for the 
right of suffrage, cannot be punished by the rules in 
our church without the aid of an expost facto law. 

Extract of a letter from Rev. William W. Hill to E. 
Lewis, Esq. 

August 9, 1825. 
Brother Lewis: 

With this you will receive the history of an 
encounter which I have just sustained with Ben- 
jamin Edge, assistant preacher of this circuit. His 
death-warrant, which you will find among the pa- 
pers in its original form, reached me about dusk in 
the evening of the 5th of this month. It ordered 
me to trial on the 7th, at half-past 8 o'clock; and on 
the 6th I attended meeting twenty miles from home. 
You will find in the speech I delivered on the occa- 
sion a reference to a soliloquy, (so I characterize a 
piece'he forwarded me about three weeks since,) to 
which you will find a reply in the hand-writing of a 
gentleman whom I have gotten to transcribe my 
letter to him. After I forwarded my reply, but be- 
fore it reached his hand, his notice was served on 


me. Having mislaid his soliloquy, I cannot for- 
ward the original ; the following, however, is the 
form and substance. He begins at the top of the 
sheet thus : 


How good a thing and how pleasant it is for 
brethren to dwell together in unity. It is com- 
pared to holy anointing oil. What are professors 
of religion without union ? They only serve 
for sinners to stumble over to destruction ; and 
it may truly be said, when any member of our 
church, be he public or private, endeavors to sow 
dissensions in any of our societies, or to inveigh 
against the order and government of our church, he 
not only thereby lays himself liable to censure, but 
after he is admonished according to discipline, to 
be cut off if he do not quit it. I have taken some 
pains to inform myself respecting these men, who 
on account of a few small things in our discipline, 
want to raise disturbances in our church, and find 
that they have backslidden. St. Paul had to com- 
plain, Demas hath forsaken me, having loved the 
present world- If they would repent and seek 
more grace, they would no doubt then be disposed 
to make concessions ; and then, perhaps, differ- 
ences might be settled, and they might be restored. 
I can truly say I wish the salvation of all men on 
God's earth. Benjamin Edge. 

As this is the first attempt which I have heard of 
to enforce the gag-law, the decision may be of some 


interest to the reformers. Please write to me as soon 
as practicable what disposition you will make of it. 
If you knew the rudeness of the man, you could the 
better account for the severity of my manner, and I 
hope this will be its apology. 

Your brother in Christ, W. W. Hill. 

Rev. W. W. HilVs reply to Benjamin Edge. 

The motto of a soliloquy, — which reached my 
hands lately, designed, I presume, for my perusal, it 
having my name appended to its back, — "David's 
Beautiful Idea." 

The strain commences with the following quota- 
tion : "How good a thing and how pleasant it is 
for brethren to dwell together in unity." The motto 
and prologue which are here exhibited are both 
mild. The latter is a plant of celestial growth, and 
is green and flourishing with the dews of heaven ; 
but like the hyacinth, the lily, or the rose, choked 
with the thorns and thistles of the forest wild, it 
may spread a shade for the hissing serpent, or 
shower its virgin beauties on the deadly asp. Oh ! 
how the heart of sensibility must mourn over this 
production, which dawns with all the sweet seren- 
ity of a vernal morning, and wakes up the gay and 
innocent emotions of the soul ; but ere these lovely 
fugitives begin to carol and sing, the spirit of the 
peace-like Phoebus, rising in a sea of fire, frights 
them into the deep and chilly recesses of nature, 
and all this joy and lovely scenery, bright as Eden, 
beauteous as Paradise, becomes the arena of angry 



elements, a raging, cloudy ocean, mingled as with 
rains of an equinoctial storm. 

The word unity, as appears from the sequel, is 
ominously emphasized. Physical union is that 
law of gravity and attraction by which the atoms of 
the globe are held united, and as it respects these, 
it may be called the union of necessity. Moral 
union, or that which unites men, is effected by vari- 
ous energies ; among the more common are — first, 
that of policy for mutual benefit ; secondly, those 
of terror for purposes of partial domination ; thirdly, 
those of love flowing from mutual affection. The 
last of those is that for which the psalmist con- 
tends in its most refined sense. But which of these 
does the soliloquist advocate ? If it be the first, 
and he wish me to become a passive particle in his 
fairy system, let him metamorphose my nature, 
as the fairy of Muckelstan Moor did that of the 
geese which were changed into fragments of grey 
rock ; and then his all-ruling will, like the law of 
gravity and attraction, can wield my dust at plea- 
sure. If it be the second, designed for mutual 
benefit, and he wish me to be a recipient of the 
common good, let us join in common consultation 
upon the ground of mutual rights, that we may mutu- 
ally secure and enjoy the mutual benefit. If it be 
the third, designed for partial domination, and he 
wish me to be a vassal held in superstitious chains 
of terror, let him, like St. Peter's successor, launch 
a peal of papal thunder at my head, anathematize 
all my members, interdict fire and water; and 


should he not convert me by these engines of terror, 
when the United States become the dominions of 
the pope, and drive from their bosom every repub- 
lican heretic, I hope his clemency will give me the 
rocky summit of some western mountain upon 
which I may waste my days in penitential solitude. 
If it be the fourth, flowing from mutual affection, 
that affection, that love which influenced the Lamb 
of God to die for the world, and which binds the 
members of Christ's mystical body to each other 
by ties more tender than ever twined the bones and 
sinews of the human frame, and he wish me, with 
himself, to be bound up in the bundle of life, let 
him cease to write about disaffected members, sow- 
ing dissensions, inveighings against discipline, cut- 
tings off, backslidings, Demases, reclaimings, mak- 
ing concessions, adjusting matters, &c. &c. Little 
did the royal psalmist imagine, when he penned 
this elegant fragment, which should be the melody 
of families mingled in love, that it ever should be 
made a prelude to censures, threats and cuttings 
off. Let the soliloquist cease to call the "right of 
suffrage" treason, and free discussions inveighings 
and dissensions. Let him cease to arraign the mo- 
tives of his brethren, and attend more to his own. 
Let him seek more of that zeal and charity that 
comes from above, and thinks no evil. Let him 
not mistake that forbearance in his brethren, which 
his own forwardness alone prompts to formal resist- 
ance, for a want of zeal and a loving the world. 
Let him throw open his Conference doors, and 


invite his free brethren in the United States, as 
members of a common family, to equal lights in 
the councils of his church ; and let him make his 
concessions for having misconstrued their designs, 
and having been officiously casuistical respecting 
their motives. In a word, let him not only wish the 
salvation of all men, but let him act in a way cal- 
culated to promote it, by not thinking more of him- 
self than he ought to think, or less of others ; and 
then he may obtain that free access to the affec- 
tions of his brethren which he must for ever despair 
of while he attempts to lord it over God's heritage. 
If the soliloquist shall think proper to favor me with 
another effusion, I suggest the following as the sub- 
ject of his cogitations : — First, let him reconcile the 
government of his church to the government of the 
primitive church and the civil government of his 
country ; and then with more propriety he may 
arraign the motives of those who may refuse their 
assent to its requisitions. But in the meantime let 
him not be aggrieved if a free American shall re- 
fuse to admit that the ipse dixit of a few hundred 
itinerants should be a rule of faith for three hundred 
thousand Americans. 


I, Benjamin Edge, assistant preacher, Matamus- 
keet Banks and Island circuit, send this to notify 
and request you to attend at the chapel in Matamus- 
keet on next Sunday, the 7th day in August, A. D. 
1S25, to appear before a committee of local preach- 


ers and before the assistant preacher of the circuit, 
for the express purpose of answering to the charge 
of trying to sow dissension in our society, in this 
quarter and in some other places, and inveighing 
against some of our rules and church government. 
You can withdraw under church censure if you see 
proper, if you do it in a formal manner. The time 
appointed for the committee to meet is at half-past 
8 o'clock. I am a friend to all true Christians. 

B. Edge. 
N. B. This was directed on the back to "Rev. 
Wm. W. Hill, Hyde county, N. C, Matamuskeet." 

The speech of Rev. Mr. Hill before the committee in his 
own defence. 
Friends and Brethren, — This action and the 
ground upon which it is sustained crowns me with 
laurels far beyond my deserts. To be identified 
with prophets, apostles, martyrs, and the illustrious 
patriots of all ages and nations, who have bravely 
resisted tyranny, is a summit of glory to which my 
humble pretensions never aspired. But here, on 
the very ground consecrated by the blood of brave 
Americans, my contending for the right of suffrage 
is construed into moral treason, for which I am ar- 
rested. You, the sons of intrepid veterans, bap- 
tized in the blood of slaughtered parents, are called 
upon to punish as a crime in me the act of con- 
tending for the right of suffrage for which your 
fathers expired. From the shade of that laurel 
with which the genius of your country shelters her 



children, and under which she invites the oppressed 
and suffering sons of Europe to rejoice and repose, 
from this shade I am dragged by the grasp of an 
oppressor before a tribunal, and I stand arraigned 
as a capital offender. Happy, oh ! thrice happy 
am I, when on the one hand I behold the tribunal 
before which I stand, and on the other I mark the 
counts in the bill of indictment. In the patriotism 
of that congregation composed of the descendants 
of those gallant men who lashed from their shores 
the galleys of a civil tyrant, and in the love and jus- 
tice of that committee, composed of generous spirits 
doubly free, free from civil and ecclesiastical domi- 
nation, free from spiritual tyranny, having been 
emancipated by the Spirit of God, I feel doubly 
secure. But, friends, mark the items in this death- 
warrant — first, endeavoring to sow dissensions in our 
societies, in this quarter and elsewhere ; and, second- 
ly, inveighing against some of our rules of church 
government. Oh! what ground of exultation. Oh! 
that I was as pure as this arrest would make me. 
From all that here occurs, I am white as snow and 
bright as a sunbeam; yet the punishment demanded 
by the plea, and claimed by the judge at your 
hands, is official death. After all the vigilance of 
a regular combination and deep-laid conspiracy 
against my official life and character, not a vestige 
of evidence supports the allegation.. But, friends, 

if advocating the right of suffrage be sowing dissen- 
ts o o o 

sion, and contending that lordly combinations in the 
church of Christ are incompatible with the religion 


of Jesus, then indeed I am guilty of the crime for 
which patriots have bled and martyrs expired. 

Wretched indeed is the policy of that church 
which must be screened from investigation by gag- 
laws, or protected against opposition by a wall of 
bayonets. Is this the character which he gives you 
of Methodism . ? If so, her interest requires that he 
should be the culprit and I the prosecutor. But, 
friends, why should we float upon the surface of 
this business ? Let us dive to the bottom of this 
deep-laid conspiracy, which strikes at once at the 
prosperity of our church and the freedom of our 
country. We this day touch but a remote link of a 
vastly extended and fearful combination. This 
freedom of investigation, this devotedness to equal 
rights, this opposition to lordly encroachments, for 
which he wishes you to inflict a signal punishment 
on me, is not the business of a corner nor the reve- 
rie of a few factious minds, as he would have you 
believe, but the work of regular associations, and 
the boast and glory of thousands of the greatest and 
best men belono-ina; to our church. If I mistake 
not, men who are now devoted to the reformation 
for which I contend, were true to the cause of 
Methodism when the oldest bishop now in the itin- 
erancy revolted against her. Why have not the 
bishops, arrayed with their itinerant' legions, as- 
sailed the editorial committee of the "Mutual 
Rights," or the other associated societies of the 
reformers, and crushed this rising Atlas at a 
stroke? Ah, no! they are but too conscious that 


they would be compelled to retire from the assault, 
like the waves of ocean from a massy rock, foam- 
ing in confusion. Why then does he attempt an 
achievement which the host of his itinerant brethren 
durst not touch with their little finger ? He has 
rashly calculated upon your weakness and his own 
strength. With all the ambition and none of the 
skill of Napoleon, he seeks to divide and then de- 
vour. He drags from the dungeon of despotism 
the chain of his vengeance, and bids you to rivet it 
on my hands ; to paralyze my tongue with the 
frost of official death, that I might talk no more of 
heaven, of Jesus, and of freedom, would be the 
summit of his ambition. Yes, friends, the conclave 
to. which he belongs has found me of some use to 
my reforming brethren in this State, (pardon this 
egotism,) and he views me as the shield of freedom 
and of mutual rights in this section of country. 
And the materials of which he is made (he being in 
a great degree devoid of politeness, delicacy and 
sensibility) qualify him to be a tool in their hands ; 
and as a sort of subaltern or dragoon, the object of 
his mission, I doubt not, is to harpoon me from the 
church, and pluck up at once the germ of reforma- 
tion in this section of country. But I trust you will 
this day detect his ambition, and exhibit his pre- 
sumption to naked view, with all its appalling de- 
formities, that it may be whipped through the world 
with the lash of every generous spirit. And that 
he may accomplish this work of spiritual havoc the 
more successfully, he comes under the plausible 


appellation of a brother. If he be a brother, it must 
be by the bonds of religious love, for the ties of 
consanguinity must be vastly remote. But mark 
his cold, icy visage : do you behold the rosy glow 
of sensibility suffuse his cheek, or the tear of sym- 
pathy pearl along his visage? Do you behold his 
bosom swell with the lacerated feelings of an af- 
flicted man who sees a brother about to be immo- 
lated? No: but with a sort of stupid sullenness he 
pants for barbarous triumph ; while those little 
sunken, languid blue flames under his forehead 
glimmer with the lashes of the inquisition. Is his 
conduct better than his locks? Has he followed 
me with the arguments, importunities and remon- 
strances of an aggrieved brother ? Where is the 


man whom he united with himself in this expedi- 
tion of love to rescue a wandering brother from 
error, and bring him back to the right way? No, 
not a word ever escaped his lips to me on the sub- 
ject before this day. When he passed up the cir- 
cuit last a sort of soliloquy reached my hands, hav- 
ing his name affixed, which I should not have 
known was designed for my perusal had not my 
name been appended to its back ; and before he 
received my answer he issued his arrest. This I 
received on Friday evening, demanding my at- 
tendance at half-past 8 o'clock the ensuing Sabbath, 
at which time I had an appointment for two days' 
meeting twenty miles from home. No allowance 
was made for the arrangement of a defence, the 
collection of testimony, nor the adjustment of busi- 


ness; but with the promptitude of an eastern slave 
I must obey this pigmy lord, and leave the world 
behind. To cap the climax of his brotherhood, he 
dragged from Carrituck, a distance of thirty odd 
miles, this man David Ellis, (with whom I have di- 
vided my bread and purse, and whose hands I have 
borne up in this assembly,) and drilled him as the 
creature of his vengeance for the havoc of this day, 
while other brethren of far more experience and 
talents lived within a few miles of the scene of trial; 
and that he might secure a majority of three he has 
duped this old Israelite into his deadly policy; a 
man with whom I have passed ten years of unin- 
terrupted union, and for whom I could almost have 
died. And in your presence this man has endea- 
vored to act the double part of prosecutor and juror. 
And if blackness can be added to this portray 
of darkness, this very man, Benjamin Edge, call- 
ing himself brother, minister of Christ, assistant 
preacher, has ambushed all my peregrinations in 
social circles of neighborhood conviviality, through 
which I have passed with all the hilarity and cheer- 
fulness of conscious innocence ; he has entered with 
all the subtlety and venom of a serpent. He has 
entered into private families and scraped the neigh- 
borhood in quest of materials to secure his deadly 
purpose. He has violated all rules of politeness by 
seeking to pry into private conversations through 
all possible mediums. Is this the minister of peace, 
the herald of Jesus, going about like his Lord and 
Master to do good? Tell it not in Gath, publish it 


not in Askelon. Oh ! how my heart sickens at the 
sight of this mystery of iniquity. And that nothing 
may be wanting to complete this spectacle of hor- 
ror you are called upon to aid in this work of domi- 
neering vengeance. You, with whom I have spent 
ten years of the most unsullied communion; you, 
with whom I have often shared the most hallowed 
emblems of love, the broken body and shed blood 
of Christ ; yes, you, with whom ten years of my 
life have passed as softly away as if I had glided 
on a river of oil ; you, with whom I might have 
softly slept in Jesus had not this disturb r come, 
are called upon to dip your hands in the blood of a 
brother who never wished you wrong. But, oh! 
destruction stops not here. Each one of us is the 
centre of a little community, around which a do- 
mestic circle plays. We expect to hand our names 
over to future ages, and to live in the persons of 
others, when these bodies, now rosy, nervous and 
gay, are dissolved and motionless in the dust ; 
nevertheless you are called upon for a verdict which 
must fester in the hearts of our descendants to the 
fourth generation, and fling a baleful hue upon the 
distant scenery of future ages. All this for what? 
That I may be bound as a victim upon the altar of 
that man's ambition whose hand trembles to slay 
me. And what is Benjamin Edge? A passing 
cloud, a bird of flight, an atom in the breeze, a bub- 
ble upon the stream of nature, which must shortly 
burst and vanish away, a scapegoat of the wilder- 
ness, turned loose to wander through the earth and 


leave no trace behind. And yet you, the substan- 
tialities of civil and religious society ; you, the con- 
necting links between the present and future ages, 
are called upon to give up a member of your own 
body, a brother, to the vagaries of this vanishing 
shade. And should you obey his wishes, what ac- 
count will you give to the tribunal of your own con- 
science when you retrospect the work of this day, 
and survey a brother, an innocent man, without a 
shadow of blame, transfixed by your sentence, and 
laid low in the dust ? What account will you ren- 
der to the free, intrepid spirits of this assembly, 
whose eyes now flash with the flames of intelligent 
scrutiny upon your deliberations, should you pun- 
ish as a crime in me the act of contending for the 
right of suffrage, for which their brave ancestors 
agonized and expired ? How will you answer for 
such an outrage upon the sanctuary of freedom to 
the awful and violated majesty of these United 
States, who combine as with the congregated weight 
of the raging ocean to wreck in an instant the pre- 
tensions of any tyrant who shall attempt to violate 
the rights of their children ? What plea will you 
offer to the advocates of mutual rights in your 
church, who spurn at lordly encroachments upon 
the heritage of Christ ? And still more, what ac- 
count will you render to the members of the Roan- 
oke District Conference, from whom you hold your 
official existence ; to whom you stand pledged in 
the work of reform; and in whom, be you assured, 
you will find the most inflexible advocates of free 


dom, and the most invulnerable opponents to lordly 
pretensions in the church of Christ? Lastly, how 
will you account with Him whose eyes are as a 
flame of fire, and whose voice is as the roaring of 
many waters, when he shall ask you why you 
sealed a brother's lips in silence, and bound him 
.over in chains? Can you expect from him, for 
such a work, the soul-exhilarating plaudit of "Well 
done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy 
of your Lord?" Will you not rather anticipate that 
frightful sentence, which will seize your souls as 
with the convulsions of an earthquake, "Depart ye 
cursed into everlasting fire?" This defence is not 
predicated upon suspicions of the jury; there are 
men upon that committee with whom I am willing 
to risk my sublunary all ; and over the two who 
have been the dupes of that man's policy I would 
cast the mantle of mercy. The collusion of the 
judge, Benjamin Edge, with that old Israelite who 
attempted to occupy a place on that jury, but whom 
I have been so fortunate as to identify as the prose- 
cutor, averse to his own wishes and the expecta- 
tions of his ally, and for which you have justly re- 
moved him from your committee; I say the collusion 
of those is a lively comment upon a mysterious 
vision presented to my mind a few nights past. In 
appearance a tablet of state was before me, bounded 
on the edges or extremes with broken inscriptions 
in bright characters* which one requested me to 
read, whose name I will not mention, but which I 
could not decipher; immediately through the midst 


two hands with arms from the elbows were col- 
laterally extended with all the fingers in full per- 
fection ; and although the ground of the tablet was 
like slate, and the color of the hands the same, yet 
the latter appeared in full relief and clear distinc- 
tion ; the whole appeared to emit a fervid glowing, 
like a piece of iron in a state of fusion. This in- 
stant brings the interpretation. Those collateral 
hands are those two men combined against me; the 
color of the tablet is the blackness of the plot ; the 
fervid glowing is the characteristic of the spirit 
which conducts it. Further I will not go; but I 
wait for time and circumstances 10 develop the re- 
maining mystery. But the charities of my heart 
are still enlisted in behalf of my prosecutor, and I 
could wish that the part he has acted in this afflict- 
ing tragedy could be wiped from the memory of his 
survivors, for his days are evidently almost run, 
and I am loth to see this stain affixed to his memo- 
ry. But that man, Benjamin Edge, is the first 
traveling Methodist minister who ever reached this 
neighborhood without sharing in my sympathies 
and support ; and even now the charities of my 
heart should overflow towards him in rich effu- 
sion did not justice to myself, my church and my 
country sternly forbid it. There is a point beyond 
which forbearance is an abuse, and we have reached 
it; and under the stern demands of principle I am 
now compelled to reverse in this instance the order of 
my whole life, and to recommend him (for his good) 
to your justice ; a justice, nevertheless, blended 


with mercy. Teach him to respect the rights of 
your church and country; let him know, freemen 
of Hyde, that until he shall do this you will do 
without him, and that he shall do without you ; let 
him know that you tolerate his performances now 
more out of respect, to his church than out of re- 
spect to his talents. Let him learn that that man, 
John Giles, a member of your own community, 
who rears a family for the commonwealth, can hold 
the handle of his plough every day of his life, and 
infinitely transcend him in talents, though he de- 
vote himself to his profession alone ; and, indeed, 
where is the man on that committee who is not 
better qualified for public usefulness than he is? 
And, my brethren of the laity, while I really feel 
myself an unprofitable servant in the main, yet I 
am glad for your sake that the stroke which he has 
leveled at your freedom has fallen upon me as 
your shield. I hold myself ready to be the pack- 
horse of your burthens, and am prepared to share 
in your joys and sorrows; and I assure you that 
the devotedness of this day will never escape my 
fondest recollections. 

And now, my brethren of the committee, bring in 
a verdict which shall comport with the interests of 
your church and the rights of your country, and I 
shall be satisfied. 

The committee reported — "No cause of action." 
Was ever a vindication more triumphant? Was 
ever innocence more nobly or manfully defended 


than upon this occasion ? No immorality whatever 
was charged against the Rev. Mr. Hill ; but the speci- 
fications were for inveighing against discipline and 
sowing dissension in societies. Was it not passing 
strange that Benjamin Edge should undertake to 
expel the defendant in this case from the pale of the 
church, depose him from the sacred office of the 
ministry, put the seal of official silence upon 
his lips for ever, and arrest him from pointing 
sinners to the Lamb of God any more ? And 
all this, too, for expressing his opinion concern- 
ing the government of the church of which he 
was a member ; an unalienable right which every 
Christian and patriot possesses in Columbia's hea- 
ven-favored land. Who can read brother Hill's de- 
fence without admiration ? How scathing it must 
have been to the feelings of the judge, if, indeed, 
he possessed much sensibility. One might con- 
clude, from what he encountered and suffered on 
that occasion, that the Rev. Mr. Edge would ever 
afterwards suffer the friends of reform to rest in 
peace ; but we shall perhaps hear from him again 
before the close of this history. The address or 
defence, although severe, should be read by every 
lover of mutual rights ; and generations yet to come 
will admire the man and applaud the Christian that 
thus boldly and fearlessly encountered the spirit of 
tyranny, and successfully withstood the insidious 
efforts of the strong hand of oppression. 




Protest of the Roanoke Union Society against the ninth section 
of Discipline. — Formation and Constitution of Granville Union 
Society in North Carolina. — Trials and expulsions of some of 
its members. — Correspondence between Ivey Harris and Rev. 
William Compton with regard to the expulsions. 

At the annual meeting of the Roanoke Union 
Society a committee was appointed to review the 
ninth section of the book of Discipline, as revised 
by the General Conference of 1824, and make re- 
port thereon. The General Conference, in the pas- 
sage of the rules contained in that section, had 
touched a most delicate question, especially so to 
the people of the south. Slavery is an institution 
that is regulated by law in the States where it ex- 
ists. Laws are enacted from time to time by the 
legislatures of such States for the special govern- 
ment and regulation of that class of people. Many 
individuals who are members of the church are 
connected with slavery, and that, too, not through 
choice or action of their own, but by the very cir- 
cumstances of birth. The customs which obtain 
with respect to it are thought, by those who have 
the best opportunities of knowing, to be the most 
conducive to the welfare of all concerned. And 
whenever an ecclesiastical body interferes with a 
subject that belongs more properly to the legisla- 
tive hall, grounds of offence are given, and discord 


ensues ; and it is much regretted by the true friends 
of humanity and of religion that the misguided zeal 
of both religionists and philanthropists has been 
such as to militate against the temporal and spirit- 
ual interests of both classes of the colored popula- 
tion in the southern States. 

The action of the General Conference, by the 
adoption of the ninth section of Discipline upon the 
subject of slavery, created dissatisfaction among 
the people of the southern States ; and in the south, 
generally, the rules of said section have remained 
to this day a dead letter. The committee that was 
appointed to review this section of the book of 
Discipline brought in a protest, which, after some 
discussion, was amended and adopted, and stands 
on record in the following form and words : 


" Open rebuke is better than secret love." 

Extract from the Methodist Discipline, as revised by the General 
Conference of 1824. 

Section IX. — Of Slavery. 

Question. What shall be done for the extirpa- 
tion of the evil of slavery ? 

Ans. 1. We declare that we are as much as 
ever convinced of the great evil of slavery. There- 
fore, no slave-holder shall be eligible to any official 
station in our church hereafter where the laws of 
the State in which he lives will admit of emanci- 
pation, and permit the liberated slave to enjoy 


2. When any traveling preacher becomes the 
owner of a slave or slaves by any means, he shall 
forfeit his ministerial character in our church, unless 
he execute, if it be practicable, a legal emancipa- 
tion of such slaves, conformably to the laws of the 
State in which he lives. 

3. All our preachers shall prudently enforce upon 
our members the necessity of teaching their slaves 
to read the word of God ; and to allow them time 
to attend upon the public worship of God on our 
regular days of divine service. 

4. Our colored preachers and official members 
shall have all the privileges which are usual to 
others in the District and Quarterly Conferences, 
where the usages of the country do not forbid it. 
And the presiding eldeV may hold for them a sep- 
arate District Conference, where the number of 
colored local preachers will justify it. 

5. The Annual Conference may employ colored 
preachers to travel and preach where their services 
are judged necessary; provided that no one shall 
be so employed without having been recommended 
according to the form of Discipline. 


1. We believe the answers given to the foregoing 
question to be injurious to the refined sensibilities of 
white men; because, in the first place, it exhibits 
the late General Conference as a body of white men 
unnaturally and most zealously engaged for the 
social advancement and official promotion of colored 


men in the Church, in opposition to her ancient 
usages ; and that, too, without her consent in person 
or by proxy. 

2. Because the arrangement in the fourth item 
confounds the white and colored officers of the 
church in the Quarterly Conferences, and the white 
and colored preachers in the District Conferences, 
without the sanction of the church or the previous 
consent of parties. 

3. Because the same item grants to colored 
preachers the twofold prerogative of mixing with 
the whites in the District Conferences, and a sepa- 
rate conference for themselves, which guarantees to 
them the harmony and exclusive advantage of a 
private interview with the presiding elder of their 
respective districts. 

4. Because the fifth item authorizes the Annual 
Conferences to employ colored preachers to travel 
and preach without the consent of the people to 
whom they are destined to preach. 

5. Because the third item makes it the duty of 
the preachers to enforce upon our members the 
necessity of learning their slaves to read, and allow 
them time to attend preaching, as one of the various 
means devised (in said answer) for the extirpation 
of the evil of slavery; thus secularizing the word 
and worship of Almighty God. 

6. Because the foregoing arrangements subject 
the white members (in case of an appeal) to be 
tried by a parti-colored Quarterly Conference, as 
the case may happen. 


7. Because the said answer opens to men of 
color the shortest and cheapest road to social con- 
sequence and official promotion to be found in the 
United States, or even in Christendom ; conse- 
quently, they will inundate the church, and eventu- 
ally subject the whites to their official control. 

8. Because said answer cannot fail to increase 
the insolence of the slaves and free people of color, 
and consequently expose them to exemplary pun- 
ishment at the hands of their owners and State 
authorities under which they live. 

This answer is also calculated to excite the oppo- 
sition and contempt of our fellow citizens in the 
southern and western States against our traveling 
preachers. First, because it was given by a Gen- 
eral Conference composed of the representatives of 
our traveling preachers, some of whom were the 
subjects of the British government. Secondly, 
because this answer contemplates the extirpation 
of the evil of slavery by the literary and pulpit in- 
struction of the slaves, and the official promotion 
and agency of people of color. Thirdly, because 
this answer enjoins upon our preachers an interfer- 
ence with the civil and domestic concerns of the 
slave-holding States. Fourthly, because this an- 
swer has a direct tendency to sow the seeds of do- 
mestic discontent, and to create conspiracies in the 
southern States. 

For the above reasons we do most solemnly pro- 
test against this ninth section of our Discipline. 

Signed in behalf of the Roanoke Union Society, 
Eli B. Whitaker, President. 


At a subsequent meeting of the society the com- 
mittee on ways and means reported a resolution 
which was adopted, that copies of the ninth section 
of the Discipline, with the accompanying protest, be 
printed and extensively circulated. 

The grounds taken by the authors of the protest 
are considered by many as imaginary or chimerical, 
that there is nothing in the ninth section calculated 
to produce any of the effects spoken of in the pro- 
test. If so, wrry have not the preachers in the 
southern States proceeded to execute the requisi- 
tions of that section , ? So far as the knowledge and 
observation of the writer extend, they suffer them to 
sleep: it has lived as a dead letter in the book. 
The subject was too delicate for the southern min- 
isters to handle. The times, customs and laws all 
conspired to dictate to them a more prudent course, 
and that was to leave the subject where they 
found it. 

Some time in the early part of the year 1826 the 
organization of the Granville Union Society took 
place. Its objects were the same as those of the 
Roanoke Union Society. Both were desirous to 
see a reformation effected in the government of the 
church to which they belonged. But such was the 
opposition manifested by clerical authority or itin- 
erant supremacy, that the former society was soon 
destined to pass through a fiery ordeal. In a 
few days after their organization the preacher in 
charge began to manifest a disposition to break up 
the Union Society, and crush the spirit of reform as 


it were by his mere ipse dixit. The writer begs 
leave to introduce here a "letter from the Granville 
Union Society to the Baltimore Union Society, 
giving an account of the late proceedings against 
reformers, and asking advice." 

Dear Brethren, — On the fourth Friday and 
days following in July, 1S26, we met at Plank 
Chapel meeting-house, in Tar River Circuit, for the 
purpose of organizing a Union Society, which we 
proceeded to do, after prayer, in the following man- 
ner: — A brother arose and proceeded to inform the 
congregation of the objects of the meeting, namely, 
to unite for the purpose of petitioning the General 
Conference to grant to the Methodist Episcopal 
Church an equitable representative form of govern- 
ment; and after having answered all the objections 
which he had heard urged by the old side brethren 
in a very satisfactory manner, he called on all who 
were friendly to the wished for amendment to take 
seats in one square of the meeting-house, which was 
accordingly done. We then proceeded to elect our 
officers. Anderson Paschall, President; Lewellyn 
Jones, Vice President; and Rev. Jesse H. Cobb, 
Secretary. There were about fifteen persons who 
became members of this society at that meeting, 
who proceeded to adopt the following 


Whereas it is an acknowledged principle, in all 
equitable and well regulated ecclesiastical govern- 



merits, that each member should be guarded as a 
Christian in his rights and privileges, the principle 
•of which is the right of representation in the law- 
making department, either personally or by his 
representative ; and as it is a well known fact that 
according to the present form of the government 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the itinerant 
brethren have arrogated to themselves and do exer- 
cise exclusive authority in the government of the 
same ; and whereas a minority of the itinerant 
preachers and a large number of the laity and lo- 
cality are desirous to have the government of our 
church so revolutionized as to secure equality of 
representation to local and lay members : 

We therefore deem it advisable in matters so im- 
portant to form ourselves into a society, for the pur- 
pose of corresponding with our brethren within the 
United States who are favorable to a reform, on 
such subjects as will tend to improve the form 
of our church government. And we do adopt 
for the government of the society the following 
regulations : 

Article 1. This society shall be denominated 
the Granville Union Society, auxiliary to the Balti- 
more Union Society. 

Art. 2. The officers of this society shall consist 
of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Trea- 
surer, and a Corresponding Committee of five 
members, who shall be elected annually, all of 
whom shall be members of the Methodist Episcopal 


Art. 3. It shall be the duty of the President, and 
in his absence, the Vice President, to preside at 
every meeting of the society, to call a special meet- 
ing whenever the situation of the society may re- 
quire it, and open and close the meeting with sing- 
ing and prayer. 

Art. 4. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to 
take charge of the funds of the society, and render 
annually, or oftener, if the society require it, a state- 
ment of receipts and expenditures ; and to deliver 
to his successor in office all moneys, papers, books, 
&c, remaining in his possession. 

Art. 5. It shall be the duty of the Secretar}' to 
keep a strict record of the proceedings of the 

Art. 6. It shall be the duty of the Corresponding 
Committee to correspond with the Baltimore Union 
Society, and all other societies and persons as the 
members of this body may from time to time direct, 
and lay before the society at each meeting such 

Art. 7. Any person may become a member of 
this society who is friendly to a reform, by signing 
his name to this Constitution, or by a written com- 
munication to the society, provided he is a member 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

Art. 8. This society shall meet at such times 
and places as shall be appointed, and contribute to 
defray the expenses of the same. 

Art. 9. There shall be an annual meeting of this 
society on the 4th day of July, at Harris's meeting- 


house, for the purpose of electing officers and trans- 
acting other business. 

Art. 10. This Constitution may be altered or 
amended at any meeting of the society, provided a 
majority of the members be present, and two-thirds 
of them concur in such alterations or amendments. 

A few days after the meeting some of the old 
side brethren informed the preacher in charge (Rev. 
B. Field) that there had been a union meeting, and 
that six of the society under his charge at Plank 
Chapel had become members. Upon the receipt 
of this information the preacher forthwith sent to 
each of them the following reproof: 

"I am sorry to learn that you, with several oth- 
ers, have associated in order to use your endeavors 
to sow dissensions in our societies by inveighing 
against the discipline of our church. It therefore 
now becomes my painful duty as preacher in charge 
to administer reproof to you for your unscriptural 
and peace-destroying conduct ; and if you see pro- 
per to yield to reproof so far as to engage in future 
to leave off such pernicious conduct, I shall rejoice 
to hear the same; but if you refuse, you thereby 
bring me under the necessity of calling you to 
account before the church to answer for your 

On the receipt of this reproof not one of them 
could feel guilty, or a disposition to comply with its 
requirements, for this obvious reason, the charges 
contained in it were false and groundless. They 


were nevertheless cited to trial. Four of the lay- 
men were ready. The trial commenced by exhib- 
iting the charges, and by an attempt on the part of 
the preacher to substantiate them. Herein he ut- 
terly failed. He, however, intent on his purpose, 
changed his ground, and proceeded to examine 
some witnesses respecting their opinions of Union 
Society meetings. The witnesses stated in reply 
that they thought they were calculated to sow dis- 
sensions in the church. The preacher in charge 
then asked the accused for their defence. Brother 
Lewellyn Jones, a man of irreproachable life, pro- 
ceeded by asking permission to read his defence, 
alleging that he labored under some constitutional 
impediment which tended to injure extempore 
speaking. On a cold admission of his request, he 
began, but was ordered immediately to desist, un- 
der pretence that it was irrelevant. A friend then 
offered to prove Jones's innocence by his declara- 
tion as contained in the Constitution of the society, 
but he too was ordered peremptorily to sit down. 
"When your evidence is wanted I will call for it," 
said the preacher in charge. Macon, who stood 
charged next, alleged in his defence that the object 
of their association in the Union Society might be 
plainly developed by reading its Constitution, and 
asked permission to do so, but this was refused 
him ; he then asked leave to read only two items 
in the Constitution, this was also most peremptorily 
denied. A brother Valentine was,, then called on 
for his defence, who only pleaded his innocence of 


the crimes charged in his indictment, and then sub- 
mitted. A brother Hunt, a young man, was called 
on last, who simply said he meant no harm; nor 
had he said one contentious word ; those with whom 
he had associated were his particular acquaint- 
ances, and he had every reason to believe were his 
best friends, and some of them his fathers in the 
gospel as well as kindred after the flesh ; he had 
intended no harm, and had said nothing that could 
give offence. But his plea of innocence before 
such a tribunal could avail nothing. His staunch 
pursuer proceeded to pronounce the unrighteous 
verdict which excommunicated him and his three 
suffering brethren from the Methodist Episcopal 

If this conduct become notorious, we cannot 
conceive with what grace preachers can ever 
invite another soul to become a member of our 
church, while membership is so uncertain; will not 
unprofessing men of correct views warn their chil- 
dren and friends of the danger of being disgraced 
by some bigoted, unfeeling mortal, who may seek to 
execute his authority upon them, if they should be 
so unfortunate as to differ from him in matters of 
church polity? 

It is true these expelled brethren were brought 
before the class of which they were members, but, 
alas ! there were found enough tools of priestly au- 
thority to give a vote, from which the preacher 
inferred his right to expel them all — for you must 
know that when the question was put to the society 


it was not as it should have been, guilty or not 
guilty, as charged ; but says the priest, " all of you 
who think their conduct will have a bad effect will 
signify it by rising up ;" which question you will 
perceive had no relation to the charge. There was 
also a local preacher of the same class who was 
charged with just the same crimes, who was tried 
four days after by a committee of local preachers, 
and although the preacher in charge used the most 
vigilant caution to prevent any reformer, or even 
any who were suspected of being reformers, to sit 
on his trial, yet he was acquitted without any ac- 
knowledgment of errors on his part ; there being a 
local preacher on the committee whose common 
sense and religious soul could triumph over party 
prejudices. The committe however instructed the 
preacher in charge to give a private reproof to the 
acquitted preacher and to advise him not to say 
much more on the subject of reform hereafter. 
The trial of the other brother has not yet taken 
place, he having removed before he was ready to 
meet it. 

Brother Lewellyn Jones appealed to the quar- 
terly meeting conference, and his case was there 
reconsidered by a large portion of the old side offi- 
cial members of the circuit to which he belonged. 
A considerable debate took place ; for there were 
some generous, undaunted souls in the conference, 
who dared to plead the cause of innocence and 
mutual rights; during the discussions, the presiding 
elder for a while left the chair and introduced a 


doctrine which we hope will meet the contempt 
which it merits, namely, that men may forfeit 
church privileges without committing an immoral 
act, and instanced a case or two in criminal cases, 
where men had been punished as thieves and 
rogues who had not actually stolen any thing; and 
that men had been dealt with as tories who had not 
loaded their gun nor pulled a trigger; alleging that 
the keeping company with rogues and tories was 
sufficient proof of guilt. Having performed this 
task, he resumed the chair and put the vote, and 
the majority confirmed the sentence from which 
brother Jones had appealed. 

We would conclude this communication by ask- 
ing the advice of the Baltimore Union Society and 
their prayers in this matter. We [ declare, as to 
ourselves, that all these things do not move us. We 
hope that we are ready "not only to be bound but 
to die " in that cause which has ever appeared 
to us a reasonable and religious one ; and we 
are glad to say that we believe this flagrant out- 
rage on our dearest rights will have a healthful 
bearing on our cause. It has already awakened 
a spirit of inquiry and sympathy, and numbers are 
saying "let us die with them;" and we believe 
that our cause and numbers will always increase 
in exact proportion to the increase of light upon the 

Since writing the above the preacher in charge 
in Tar River Circuit has proceeded to expel three 
or four more members for joining the Union Society, 


one of whom was a preacher. Further commu- 
nications will be made hereafter. 

We remain, dear brethren, yours in the bonds of 
a peaceful gospel. 

Anderson Paschall, President. 

Jesse H. Cobb, Secretary. 

After reading the preceding constitution, one 
would not suppose that simply subscribing thereto, 
and thus becoming a member of the Granville Union 
Society, would (upon reasonable principles) consti- 
tute "sowing dissensions in society," or "inveigh- 
ing against discipline." But man loves power, 
and the formation of the Union Society had in con- 
templation a reformation in the government of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, so as to abridge the 
authority to a certain extent of- the itinerancy. 
This was the head and front of their offence. 
And although this was their undoubted right, as 
they interfered with no just rights of other men, yet 
in the eyes of itinerant supremacy it was regarded 
as a crime, and in order to attach odium was called 
by another name, "sowing dissensions in society 
and inveighing against discipline." Hence, for this 
offence against what we might call the strong hand 
of ecclesiastical power, these innocent, respectable, 
and upright members of the M. E. Church were 
made to feel most grievously its injustice and oppres- 
sion, by being excluded from the church of their 

It is the exercise of unjust power that constitutes 
tyranny, either in church or state ; and no tyranny 


has been more cruel or relentless in the world 
than that which has been exercised by clerical 
despots. It was that which brought a Latimer 
and a Ridley to the stake. It was that which 
established the bloody inquisition in Spain. It was 
that which made Italy what she is. And it was 
but a modification of the same spirit that cast those 
seven members of the Granville Union Society 
from the bosom of the church. And strange to re- 
late, there were professing Christians, even in Car- 
olina, where independence first drew her native 
breath, that thought and believed that it was right 
thus to eject members from the church militant, not 
for any immorality, but for opinion's sake upon 
church pohty alone. 

The manner in which that aged Christian man, 
Lewellyn Jones, was treated by the quarterly 
meeting conference to which he had appealed, 
drew forth the sympathies of many of his brethren 
in his behalf. His age, his piety, his standing in 
the community, all conspired to render him a fit 
sacrifice to be immolated upon the altar of " mutual 
rights." The expelled members thus divested of 
membership in the church, appealed to the annual 
conference, as well as sent up charges against the 
superintendent for mal-administration; but the 
conference decided it was not mal-administration ! 
Will any lover of justice or truth pretend to say, in 
view of all the circumstances, there was no need 
of reformation in the government of the church that 
tolerated such high-handed measures as these, or 


could look with approbation upon such tragic 
scenes ? If so, surely he does not breathe Ameri- 
can air. 

In order that the inquirer after truth may know 
what feelings and views were held by the preacher 
in charge, Rev. Wm. Compton, in reference to the 
expulsion for opinion's sake, we will bring forward 
a correspondence that ensued between Mr. Ivey 
Harris and the Rev. Wm. Compton in relation to 
the expulsion of Lewellyn Jones of N. Carolina, who 
had appealed to the quarterly-meeting Conference, 
held at Kings wood meeting house. 

Letter from Mr. Ivey Harris to Rev. TV. Compton. 

December 17, 1826. 
Respected Sir: 

You will perhaps be surprised when you see the 
name of him who now addresses you; but I hope 
you will excuse the liberty I take, when I tell you 
that my mind has for some weeks been dwelling 
on a subject in regard to which you may possibly 
afford me some satisfaction. I had thought to ad- 
dress you sooner, but hoped that my mind might 
receive additional light by prayer and meditation 
on the subject; but I must confess that if any light 
has been communicated, it has been calculated to 
involve in deeper mystery the particular act to 
which I allude. You cannot be at a loss for my 
allusion, when I refer you to the last quarterly meet- 
ing conference, held at Kings wood meeting house, 
Tar River Circuit, and particularly to the part you 


acted in that awful tragedy on that occasion. And 
now, my dear brother, permit me to propose several 
plain questions in the spirit of meekness : and first, 
was there any evidence adduced on that occasion 
that convicted our venerable father in Israel, 
Lewellyn Jones, of any act or word against the 
laws of God or man, more than was adduced in 
the case of brother Hunt, at Plank Chapel? I 
think you will not say there was. Why then the 
difference in your verdict respecting the two breth- 
ren? Is it that you erred in the first instance and 
have since received more light ? The fact is, evi- 
dence against him there was none, and that in his 
favor was not admitted. Secondly, was our aged 
brother convicted or even accused of any thing that 
in your estimation would exclude him from the 
kingdom of heaven ? If not, why give your vote to 
exclude him from the militant church? Thirdly, 
can it be possible that the shameful attempt of the 
president of that meeting to identify the reformers 
with thieves and tories was so influential as to cause 
any member of that body to strike the fatal blow ? 
I suppose that the thing is, perhaps, possible as it 
respects some, but charity and long acquaintance 
forbid me to think that my brother Compton can at 
all be subject to such influence. But should you 
say that remarks about thieves and tories were only 
by way of simile or comparison, I would just ask 
how much better character can the reformers sus- 
tain in the estimation of any man who will raise 
his hand to inflict the stroke of moral death on an 


old soldier of the cross, solely because he joins 
them in an humble petition to the powers that be 
for an equitable representative government, and is 
so unfortunate as to be found sitting on the same 
seats with them ? Fourthly and lastly, be so good 
as to let me know whether it was either just or gen- 
erous in you to name what was said by some body 
in Raleigh on the subject of reform, and by some 
one else in Virginia, and try to transfer their guilt to 
the venerable and trembling victim before you, who 
could no more prevent what those unknown men 
had said than your youngest child could prevent 
the sin of our first parents. 

And now, my brother, permit me to observe, 
before I close, that language fails to describe the 
feeling of my heart when I heard that the sen- 
tence against the old brother was confirmed by 
a large majority ; and my feelings were still 
more poignant, when I heard that my brother 
Compton, on whom I most depended, as in the 
case of brother Hunt, to repel the shafts of despot- 
ism, prejudice and ignorance, had lent a hand 
and the strength of his influence to hurl an old dis- 
ciple of Christ over the battlements of the church 
from such premises. But it is my firm belief that 
scores and hundreds of reformers will arise from 
the ashes of our aged and injured brother. Such 
measures will wake up reflection in thinking minds. 
Republican principles and equal rights are too pre- 
cious to relinquish in a civil capacity, and thou- 
sands are beginning to see that Christ's freemen 


should enjoy, at least, equal privileges. Be as- 
sured, my brother, that thousands of the mem- 
bers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, many 
of whom are among the most intelligent, are 
ready to be immolated on the same altar on which 
our beloved brother Jones expired; and I must take 
the liberty here to state that apart from the little 
spark of grace which charity requires me to hope 
the members of that quarterly conference yet retain, 
and having the civil authority to support them, I 
would almost as soon be tried by the popish inqui- 
sition as by some of the members of that tribunal. 
You will observe that I say some of them, for there 
are some of whom I feel united to by the strongest 
ties of brotherly love. 

And now, my dear brother, permit me in the 
conclusion to assure you that I feel nothing in my 
heart towards you contrary to Christian union and 
fellowship, for I am conscious that the best of men 
may err in their zeal for what they believe to be a 
good cause ; and my record is on high that I have 
not written a single word with a design to irritate 
your feelings, and I hope you will regard my plain 
remarks only as the effusions of a full soul. And 
further, I would request you (if I have not shared 
the common fate of my reforming brethren — if I 
have not entirely lost your Christian confidence) to 
favor me at least with a few lines in answer to the 
foregoing questions, particularly the first, second 
and fourth. And I most sincerely pray Almighty 
God that if light should be afforded from any source, 


I may possess a mind open to conviction and capa- 
ble of receiving it. Respectfully Yours, 

Ivey Harris. 
Rev. W. Compton. 

P. S. I would yet observe, with regard to our 
brother George W. Nolly, that I congratulate him 
on the comfortable hope that he will escape the 
"heaviest lashes of the next Virginia Conference," 
in consequence of having to return a "factious 
party" about Harris's meeting house, if not as 
"thieves and tories," yet as being quite above law, 
and entirely ungovernable. I. H. 

Letter from Rev. Wm. Comjyton to Mr. Harris. 

December 26, 1826. 
Brother Harris: 

Yours of the 17th was received by me this morn- 
ing. You request an answer, particularly to your 
first, second and fourth questions, provided you 
have not (in my estimation I suppose you mean) 
shared the same fate with your reforming brethren. 
Were you placed before me in the same relation 
with your "venerable father in Israel, Lewellyn 
Jones," I should deal towards the son as I dealt in 
reference to the father. Nevertheless I write to you 
because you so earnestly request it. You ask, 
under question first, " was there any evidence ad- 
duced that convicted our venerable father in Israel* 
Lewellyn Jones?" Most assuredly. His subscrib- 
ing to the constitution of the Union Society (so 
called), the object of the votaries of which I have 


reason to believe, as to the major part of them, is 
to "revolutionize" the system of Methodist Church 
government, and so to alter its economy as finally 
to destroy itinerancy and establish a congregational 
system among us. You may say " God forbid." 
If so, and you be sincere, this only vindicates your- 
self, but is no plea for any other member of your 
fraternity. But you ask, "had you not the same 
evidence in relation to James Hunt . ? " &c. I knew 
that he was a member of the same body with 
Lewellyn Jones, but I had paid but a superficial 
attention to your constitution, and therefore did not 
act upon that as evidence at all, but solely upon the 
testimony of the witnesses in the case, whose testi- 
mony 1 considered as only amounting to circum- 
stantial proof against said Hunt. This I stated in 
quarterly conference, and further added that, if 1 
had been governed by the constitution of the Union 
Society, I would have given my voice to silence 
him. You inquire, under question second, " was 
our aged brother convicted, or even charged with 
any thing that in your estimation would exclude him 
from the kingdom of heaven ? If not, why give 
your vote to exclude him from the church mili- 
tant ?" The plain English of this is, that no person 
ought to be excluded from the Methodist (which 
you are pleased to call the militant) Church, unless 
he be guilty of something that would exclude him 
from the kingdom of heaven. This plea I think 
was sufficiently met by brother Howard.* But as 

*The presiding elder. 


most of us are forgetful hearers of those things 
which confute our strongest arguments in favor of 
a beloved theory, it may not be amiss to repeat the 
substance of at least a part of what he said. And 
to make this more forcible, permit me to preface it 
with one or two questions. Will you say that the 
Presbyterians because they are Calvinists, or the 
Baptists because they deny infant baptism and free 
communion, or the Protestant Episcopalians because 
they contend for a regular succession in the minis- 
try, are heretics and ought therefore to be excluded 
the kingdom of heaven ? Let your conscience 
answer. Now if the opinions of neither the one nor 
the other of these denominations are sufficient to 
exclude a man the kingdom of heaven, then neither 
are the opinions of the whole, provided they were 
concentrated in one man. Let us then suppose 
Lewellyn Jones to be this man. In sentiment he 
is a Calvinist — he denies infant baptism and free 
communion — and contends that none ought to 
preach the gospel but those who can prove their 
ministerial authority in a direct line from Christ; — 
through the apostolical Church — through the church 
of Rome — and through the Protestant Episcopal 
Church. You, I suppose, would say that he is not 
to be excluded the Methodist (that is to say, the mili- 
tant) Church, because of the peculiarity of his sen- 
timents. Is this the way you argue? Or is this the 
" freedom" of which you so often speak, and which, 
from your course of reasoning, one would think is 
one of the constituent parts of your contemplated 


change in the government of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church ? If so, what I did in the case of your 
" venerable father in Israel " I conceive to have 
been one of the best acts of my life. L. Jones may 
or may not be a good man, and so of I. Harris ; it is 
not for me to say. But when a man subscribes to 
an instrument of writing, the express object of 
which is to "revolutionize" the government of the 
Methodist Church, I think it my duty as a member 
of said church to be decided in my stand against 
him. And for this reason I have resolved to be no 
longer neutral in the matter. 

You ask, fourthly and lastly, "was it either just 
or generous in you to name what was said by some 
body in Raleigh on the subject of reform, and by 
some one else in Virginia, and thus try to transfer 
their guilt to the venerable and trembling victim 
before you ?" &c. I think both. For certainly I, 
as a Methodist, ought to be open of heart (which is 
one definition of the term generous, and the one I 
suppose intended) in vindicating the church to 
which I belong, and to which, under God, I owe 
my religious existence. That is, I ought to keep 
nothing concealed which would be to the advantage 
of said church. And I think it very advantageous 
to Methodism that those who are dividing our Zion 
against herself should be traced out and exposed in 
all their ramifications, both as it relates to them- 
selves and to those with whom they are connected 
in the great work of revolutionizing the government 
of the church. I have said both, of course what I 


did I consider an act of justice as well as of gene- 
rosity. I will suppose a case : C is found carrying 
off the body of a murdered man ; upon examination 
it is ascertained that A caught the deceased and 
held him fast, that B threw him down, and that C 
stabbed him through the heart. They are all tried, 
and being found accessory to the man's death, are 
all brought in guilty, and must die. In vain A 
pleads that he only caught and held the deceased, 
and B that he only threw him down. The law 
says that they shall die. But Ivey Harris asks 
"whether it is just to name what B and C did on 
the trial of A, and so to transfer their guilt to him?" 
who, perhaps, may say that he had no idea that 
matters would have been carried so far. But the 
law says that he must die. Now who is to deter- 
mine the case? The court by which these men 
were tried, or Ivey Harris? Transfer the idea, and 
the thing is explained. Thus, brother Harris, you 
may perceive what my views are, and what I have 
to offer for the side I took on the trial of Lewellyn 
Jones and Thomas Hunt, though you have not men- 
tioned the young man, but seemed altogether con- 
cerned for your " father in Israel." 

You ask permission to propose several plain 
questions, I will also ask it to make several plain 
statements. And first, I think L. J. is justly ex- 
pelled, yet I think he is not so culpable as those of 
Harris's class, through whose influence he and others 
have been turned aside from the simplicity of the 


In the course of ray observations, I have seen 
that those fiery zealots for what you call reform, are 
not the humble, patient, meek and happy souls they 
once were. As ministers, they are not the soul 
awakening, soul converting and soul saving preach- 
ers of righteousness they once were. Instead of 
their time being devoted to prayer, religious conver- 
sation, and trying to further the interests of the 
Redeemer's kingdom when they meet, and espe- 
cially if they think there is the least chance to make 
proselytes to their side of the question, it is almost 
totally taken up in talking about church govern- 
ment. This is their Alpha and Omega. And yet, 
strange to say, you call these non-essentials. And 
will you, for the sake of non-essentials, distract the 
body to which you belong so far as you have influ- 
ence ? Will you give the adversary to speak re- 
proachfully of religion, and arm the enemies of 
Christ with arguments against the truth? Would 
you not be more profitably engaged in trying to 
" provoke each other to love and to good works ?" 

Secondly : you may observe that I have made no 
reply to what you have said against brother How- 
ard and others of the Quarterly Conference. This 
I have not refrained because you exempt me, for I 
ask no such exemption. I wish to be involved in 
the same righteous condemnation with my brethren 
of that conference. If they were unfeeling and un- 
merciful because of the part they took against 
Lewellyn Jones and Thomas Hunt, so was I. If 
for this they are " inquisitors," so am 1. In a word, 


I do not like to be flattered. I am equally praise 
or blameworthy with those true friends of old Meth- 
odism. The reason why I say no more is not be- 
cause any thing you have said is unanswerable, but 
because I wish every man to fight his own battle. 
And now. to close the whole, I would propose that 
you and I pray more and talk less about non-essen- 
tials. That we read the Bible more, and try to get 
more religion; for "without holiness no man shall 
see the Lord." 

. Finally, I have not written with an eye to a 
paper war, and therefore, though I fear not to de- 
fend the truth, I wish this to be both the beginning 
and the end of all controversy with you or any of 
your fraternity, on the subject of government. 
Yours respectfully, 

Wm. Compton. 

Mr. Harris's reply to Rev. Wm. Compton. 

January 7, 1829. 
Reverend Sir: 

I received yours of the 26th ultimo, on yesterday 
evening, and believe it to be my duty to make a 
few remarks on it ; although when first I addressed 
you, I assure you, sir, that I had no intention of 
opening a "paper war" with you, but only intended, 
from a firm reliance on the God of the armies of 
Israel and on the justice of my cause, to throw a 
single stone. And yet I think that young David 
chose him five smooth stones when he went against 
Goliath ; which seems to imply that if the first had 


not been effectual, he would have slung a second. 
Having so bright an example, I have determined to 
forward you a second, which although, perhaps, 
not quite so smooth as the first, yet } r our indirect 
charge of flattery shall be my apology for slinging 
it just as it is. And, with the assistance of grace, I 
promise you, sir, that I will not offend you with 
flattery on the present occasion. And I further 
promise you that I will be as concise as possible, 
consistently with my determination to faring into 
plainer view the most prominent features' of your 
very exceptionable reply. The first sentence in 
your letter that deserves notice is as follows : 
" Were you placed before me in the same relation 
with your venerable " father in Israel," I should 
deal towards the son as I dealt in reference to the 
father." I will only say, as it respects myself, that 
I most cheerfully accept the will for the deed in 
this case, and will only add a consoling line from 
the celebrated Youno;: 

When naught hut purpose is within thy power, 
That purpose firm is equal to the deed. 

In quoting my first question, you stop abruptly 
in the middle, and answer, "most assuredly, his 
subscribing to the constitution of the Union Society 
(so called), the object of the votaries of which I 
have reason to believe, as to the major part of them, 
is to revolutionize the system of Methodist Church 
government, and so to alter its economy as finally 
to destroy itinerancy and establish a congregational 
system among us," &c. Now it the single circum- 


stance of L. J. having subscribed his name to the 
paper referred to, amounts to proof sufficient in the 
mind of any reasonable man on whom the sun ever 
shone, that it was his intention by that act to con- 
tribute his mite to accomplish the deleterious ob- 
jects which yon are pleased to ascribe to a major- 
ity of the reformers ; then, sir, there might be some 
propriety in your asking respecting him, as the 
high priest did concerning Jesus, " What need we 
any further witness." Permit me first to inquire, 
with regard to L. J"., whether there is any matter 
contained in the obnoxious paper that serves as a 
foundation on which to build your conduct and ac- 
tions concerning him? Is there a single word or 
hint in that or any other official document, from 
which you can draw any legitimate conclusion that 
either Lewellyn Jones or a majority of the votaries 
of reform have any intention or wish to "destroy 
itinerancy or establish a congregational system 
among us ?" On the contrary, does not the " Mutual 
Rights," a periodical paper, the most important of 
any extant on the subject, and which has circulated 
almost throughout the United States, (notwithstand- 
ing the indefatigable efforts of itinerants, generally, 
to impede its currency and smother the light that 
emanates from it), I say, does not that work abound 
with unequivocal attestations of special attachment 
and regard to the itinerant plan? And will Wil- 
liam Compton, at this time of day, fly in the face of 
such evidence, and assert that he has " reason to 
believe that the object of a majority of the reform- 


ers" is what he states it to be ? Oh my God, lay 
not this sin to his charge! But you will say you do 
not read the "Mutual Rights;" if so, I must tell 
you, sir, that you are still more inexcusable, because 
you neglect to improve the means of information. 
The old adage says, " none so blind as he that will 
not see." You go on to quote the latter part of my 
first question, and answer as follows : "I knew that 
he was a member of the same body with L. J., but 
I had paid but a superficial attention to your consti- 
tution, and therefore I did not act upon that as evi- 
dence at all," &c. Astonishing that an instrument 
of writing so offensive as that appears to be should 
have been read in your hearing, as I know it was, 
and subject to your perusal, and that at a time 
when you were seeking evidence, and knowing 
moreover, as you did, that several brethren had 
lately been expelled for having subscribed to it ; I 
say, it is indeed astonishing that you could collect 
no scrap of evidence from that paper to help out 
the circumstantial proof you say you obtained ! 
And yet a few weeks afterwards you thought you 
could see sufficient turpitude in the act of subscrib- 
ing to the self same paper to expel our venerable 
father for that act alone, unaccompanied with any 
other evidence of whatever nature ! 

Permit me in closing my remarks on your answer 
to my first question, which have exceeded the 
limits I had set myself, to suggest that, as your 
mind underwent such a change, in reference to the 
paper alluded to, on a second reading, that, per- 


haps, it would not be amiss to give it a third, and 
perhaps you will then abandon the second view 
you took of it, and resume the first. 

You next quoted my second question, and were 
so condescending as to translate it into English for 
me, for which I tender you my thanks, as I have to 
acknowledge that I am a bad hand at translation. 
Indeed so ignorant was I in such things, that I did 
not know but that my dialect approached nearer to 
the English language than any other, though I was 
apprehensive it was not all good English. But 
while you are giving me the English of my second 
question, you enclose a short sentence in paren- 
thesis, as being peculiarly exceptionable, as follows: 
"The Methodist (which you are pleased to call the 
militant) Church." Now, sir, I would ask, when a 
man is expelled from the Methodist Church, if he 
is not at that moment expelled from the visible mili- 
tant church also ? You will take notice that I did 
not say that the Methodist comprised the whole of 
the militant church. And now, sir, why this sem- 
blance of criticism? You go on to state that my 
"second question was sufficiently met by your 
brother Howard," but thinking, 1 suppose, that you 
were about to bring me into a dilemma, you ask as 
follows : " Will you say that the Presbyterians be- 
cause they are Calvinists, or the Baptists because 
they deny infant baptism and free communion, or the 
Protestant Episcopalians, because they contend for 
a regular succession in the ministry, are heretics 
and ought therefore to be excluded from the king- 


dom of heaven? Let your conscience answer." 
My conscience, sir, answers no. You go on then 
to suppose that all the errors of these different 
denominations are concentrated in one man, who is 
a Methodist and named L. J., a case that I believe 
has never existed in the Methodist Church in 
America, and I think never will ; but I will sup- 
pose, since it will accommodate you, that the thing is 
possible, as we may suppose that when the sky falls 
we shall catch larks ; and I would ask, what have 
you gained by my admission ? For a doubt still 
remains on my mind whether in that case (if we 
are convinced that he is a member of Christ's mys- 
tical body, and a fit subject for the church triumph- 
ant) it would be right to exclude him from our com- 
munion. But as we are sometimes forgetful readers 
"of those things which confute our strongest argu- 
ments in favor of a beloved theory," especially if 
they are found in a book which we are wont to re- 
gard as almost immaculate, permit me to refer you 
to your book of Discipline, last edition and 90th 
page, and you will there read as follows: "If the 
accused person be found guilty, by the decision of 
a majority of the members before whom he is 
brought to trial, and the crime be such as is expressly 
forbidden by the word of God, sufficient to exclude a per- 
son from the kingdom of grace and glory, let the minis- 
ter or preacher who has charge of the circuit expel 
him." Now, my dear sir, it appears to me that in 
order to support your beloved "theory," or appear 
consistent, you must turn reformer yourself, and 


petition the powers that be as ardently to amend or 
expunge the above quotation as any of them can for 
the abrogation of the brandy law, the law respect- 
ing itinerant negroes, or any thing else to which 
they object. But, sir, to close on this point I will 
now make an appeal to your own reason and con- 
science. Do you believe it just and right to ex- 
clude a member of Christ's mystical body, and a 
fit subject for the kingdom of glory, from commun- 
ion at the Lord's table, and from all church priv- 
ileges with the Lord's children, solely on account 
of a difference of opinion about non-essentials ? Do 
you not invite all the Lord's children to the Lord's 
table ? But perhaps you will say, I invite all that 
are in good standing. If so, then the first question 
recurs, ought a difference of opinion about non- 
essentials to affect their standing ? Oh, my God ! 
drive these interrogatories home to his conscience. 
You proceed then to ask exultingly, " Is this the 
way that you argue?" &c, as though you had taken 
great spoil. I think, sir, if you will read the fore- 
going remarks with attention and candor, you may 
possibly think that your exultation was rather pre- 
mature. You go on to say that " when a man sub- 
scribes to an instrument of writing, the express 
object of which is to ' revolutionize' the government 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, I think it my 
duty, as a member of said church, to be decided in 
my stand against him." I have no wish, sir, to 
bind your conscience ; for my venerable father and 
several of my brethren are now groaning under the 


effects of will and power that have combined to 
fetter theirs. If, after reading the foregoing, and 
especially the many luminous essays that have been 
published in the "Mutual Rights," on the propriety 
and necessity of some alteration in the economy of 
our church ; if, after obtaining all the light you can 
on this important subject, you still feel it to be your 
duty to regard your brother as a heathen man and a 
publican, because he prefers an equitable representa- 
tive government, then, sir, I wish you to enjoy that 
freedom for which we plead. In closing the sen- 
tence you say, "and for this reason I have resolved 
to be no longer neutral in the matter." Thank you, 
sir: we have been waiting for years for some of our 
old side chieftains to break silence on this subject; 
and if you will come forward with your strong rea- 
sons, and combat our arguments, instead of our 
persons or piety, (without evidence,) we will listen 
or read with pleasure. You next quote my fourth 
and last question, and answer first by saying, " I 
think both ;" and then proceed to give me a defi- 
nition of the term generous contained in my question; 
after which you go on to display your generosity in 
"vindicating the church," and in "keeping nothing 
concealed that might injure her." But you cer- 
tainly knew that my question did not have refer- 
ence to the church but to the accused person. 
You next mention some who are " dividing our 
Zion against herself," and manifest a wish to ex- 
pose them in all their ramifications. If, sir, you 
can give me any mark by which I may know them, 


I will render any assistance in my power in order 
* to detect and expose them. But from the contents 
of your remarks it appears to me that you have 
indirectly, at least, charged the reformers with 
this crime. Now, my dear sir, permit me to 
request you to ask your own conscience, in the 
presence of God, if it was not an uncharitable 
and unwarrantable insinuation ? Indeed, sir, if I 
had been told that you thought the reformers guilty 
of this crime, I should have thought that you were 
falsely accused. You go on to declare that you 
think you performed "an act of justice as well as 
generosity," and proceed to suppose a case respect- 
ing a murder committed by A, B and C. You say 
they are all tried, and being found accessory to this 
man's death, &c. Now where is the proof that L. 
J. was accessory to any thing that those two other 
men ever said or did in their lives. And now, sir, 
as your case is entirely irrelevant, permit me to 
substitute one more applicable to the subject in 
hand. Suppose a murder committed in the State 
of Tennessee by A and B, and an inhabitant of 
Granville named C is arrested under a suspicion of 
murder. At his trial a witness comes forward and 
states that he saw A and B kill a man in Tennessee. 
The judge would no doubt ask as follows: "Wit- 
ness, was C present or in any way accessory to the 
man's death that you know of?" The witness 
answers, "He was not present, and I have no rea- 
son to believe that he was at all accessory to the 
man's death, only that he is a man, and the murder 


was committed by men, for I do not think he 
ever was in Tennessee." Now, sir, ivey Harris 
asks again whether it was either just, generous or 
pertinent in the witness to name what A and B did 
in Tennessee, especially if he had done it with a 
design to impress the minds of the judge and jury 
unfavorably with regard to C? " The law," you 
say, " says that they shall die ;" but I. H. asks 
whether it is just to name what A and B did on the 
trial of C ? Stop, sir, I. H. did not ask whether it 
was just to name what A and B did on the trial of 
C " after they are all tried and found accessory to the 
mail's death.'''' I will now, sir, take occasion to ask 
what law it is that you speak of, and by what 
authority it was enacted ? 

As you are fond of illustration, I will take the 
liberty to state a case, and I promise you it shall 
not be an irrelevant one ; but I shall use different 
letters from yours, because I think them more sig- 
nificant and appropriate. Suppose I (itinerant) is 
found in the possession of that which is the un- 
doubted right and property of L (local man) and 
L (layman) ; and while he is in the possession of 
this property he assumes the authority to enact a 
law punishing with death L and L and their chil- 
dren after them, if they should be guilty of remon- 
strating or "inveighing" against his authority or 
injustice. In some few years some of the oldest 
and most intelligent children of L and L are heard 
to express a wish that I would repeal that law 
and restore them their right. On hearing of this, 


I despatches an officer to arrest them, and they 
are brought before a court that was appointed and 
its members nominated by I himself. Now I. H. 
asks who is to determine their case ? Shall it be I's 
court or a court that is formed on the principle of 
justice, reason and religion ; or, if you like it better, 
a court and a law that had been previously ap- 
pointed and enacted by I, L and L in conjunction ? 
"Transfer the idea, and the thing is explained." 

You proceed to make several "plain statements," 
and say, first, "I think L. J. is justly expelled, yet 
I think that he is not so culpable as those of Harris's 
class, through whose influence he and others have 
been turned aside from the simplicity of the gospel." 
Worse and worse. Really, sir, it appears to me that 
if it is just to punish one who is inadvertently and 
unsuspectingly led astray in this manner, there can 
be no punishment inflicted in this life adequate to 
the crime of him who is the contriver of his seduc- 
tion. But from what has he been turned aside by 
those emissaries of Satan ? From the simplicity of 
the gospel. Pray, sir, in what do you make the 
simplicity of the gospel to consist ? Does it con- 
sist in all ecclesiastical power being vested in few 
hands ? Then, sir, we may suppose that the pope 
of Rome shared largely in this grace. Does it con- 
sist in the itinerancy claiming all legislative, execu- 
tive and judicial power in the church, and in with- 
holding from the locality and laity their just rights ? 
Then, sir, you would make the gospel knavish as 
well as simple. The substance of your remarks is 


the old tale over again, the reformers have back- 
slidden. But as this is judging (without evidence, 
as it respects a large majority of them) , and not ar- 
gument, I shall pass it over by saying, with an 
apostle, "nowwalkest thou not charitably." But 
as to your charge respecting reforming ministers, I 
would just ask if it might not be justly retorted ? 
You next ask, "and will you, for the sake of non- 
essentials, distract the body to which you belong ?" 
No, sir, we only wish to introduce a habit of sober 
and deliberate thinking. " Will you give the ad- 
versary cause to speak reproachfully of religion ?" 
No, sir, we are laboring to take from him all occa- 
sion to speak reproachfully of religion in general, 
and of the Methodist Church in particular, by say- 
ing, as many have said, "we admire your doctrines 
and the zeal of your ministers, but we despise the 
government of your church, because it is despotic 
and aristocratical." You go on, "and arm the ene- 
mies of Christ with arguments against the truth !" 
God forbid ! but we feel it to be our duty to com- 
bat such arguments, and furnish the church and the 
world with weapons with which to defend it. It 
seems, sir, by your following remarks, that my 
friendly effort to save your feelings, after I had en- 
deavored plainly to point out the injustice of your 
conduct relative to L. J., is construed by you into 
flattery, of which, however, I was not conscious ; 
and you appear to glory in being "equally blame- 
worthy with those true friends of old Methodism." 
In vain you try, sir, to collect a tax for your present 


economy by attaching the term "old" to it; for 
many of our present rules and regulations were 
born since the days of Wesley. How old, for in- 
stance, is the brandy law? And even episcopacy 
itself is not yet forty-five years old in the Methodist 
Church. And I will tell you, sir, if Moore's Life of 
Wesley is entitled to credit, it was a source of sor- 
row to Mr. Wesley when he heard that a man named 
Bishop was born in America : see Moore's life of 
Wesley, vol. 2, page 385, in a letter addressed to 
Mr. Asbury, dated London, September 20th, 1788. 
Although I know that between this letter and the 
account given in our Discipline, page 6, there is a 
manifest discrepancy. You go on to propose that 
"you and I pray more and talk less about non- 
essentials." As to praying more, with the assist- 
ance of grace I will join you. As to talking less, 
how does that accord with the resolution you say 
you have formed, "to be no longer neutral in the 
matter . ? " 

I have finished the argumentative part of this 
address ; and now, my dear brother Compton, I 
beseech you not to construe the pointed manner in 
wdiich I have addressed you, and my honest efforts 
to avoid the imputation of flattery, into asperity or 
spleen. And as it respects your addressing me 
again on this subject, I wish you to consult your 
own feelings and inclination ; and as I have endea- 
vored to be full and explicit, I incline to the opinion 
that I shall not address you again on the subject, 
although I do not preclude myself. One request 


more I have to make of you, and that is, if you 
write again on this subject, you will not trouble 
yourself to establish irrelevant points by irrelevant 
suppositions, but come to the point at issue between 
us. Otherwise, quote Paul's leaving his cloak at 
Troas with Carpus as a conclusive answer to all 
my arguments. 

I add no more but a sincere prayer to Almighty 
God that you and I, after this life shall end, may 
fill some happy seat in that church where not one of 
the members shall feel any disposition to punish 
either father or son on account of any difference of 
opinion about non-essentials. 

Yours, in the best of bonds, 

Ivey Harris. 

Rev. Wm. Compton. 

The Granville Union Society had been formed in 
July, and ere six months had passed away seven 
of its members had been summoned to trial and 
expelled from the church of their choice, for the 
crime of subscribing to the innocent constitution of 
that society. At the same time no charges were 
brought against the other members who had signed 
that instrument, and were equally guilty. The 
principal actors in these disagreeable and deplora- 
ble scenes were the Rev. Benton Field and Rev. 
William Compton. They no doubt concluded that 
the sacrifice of seven victims would be such a 
victory as to annihilate the Union Society, awe into 
submission the advocates of reform, and eradicate 


the rising germ of republicanism in the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. But in this they met with a 
most signal failure. There were, however, some to 
be found who talked loudly of their attachment to 
"mutual rights," whilst no adverse gales were 
blowing, but when "the tug of war" came on their 
principles changed with the times ; they renounced 
the doctrines of reform, became the advocates of 
itinerant supremacy, sought again to float in the 
current of popularity, rather than oppose the pleas- 
ure and wishes of a few erring mortals, who were 
willing to lord it over God's heritage for a season. 
Such men are to be pitied. Their principles are 
ever governed by the rule of convenience. Hence, 
when they ascertain the location of power or of the 
majority, they are at no loss when to fall into ranks. 
But there were many others who had espoused the 
principles of "mutual rights," and adhered to the 
same from principle. These may, with becoming 
propriety, be called men of principle, because they 
were willing to stand by their principles, and if the 
force of circumstances made it necessary, were 
even willing to bear their exiled brethren company 
unto their "Patmos." Those seven brethren had 
evidently suffered persecution for the sake of their 
opinions, apart from the doctrines of the gospel ; 
hence, they were not forsaken by their brethren 
who cherished kindred sentiments, but were still 
received and regarded as belonging to the household 
of God. 



Reform in Tennessee. — Trial of Rev. D. B. Dorsey before the 
Baltimore Annual Conference. — Letter of Rev. H. B. Bascom 
to Mr. Dorsey. — Rev. Mr. Dorsey's reply, giving an account 
of his trial. — Trials and expulsions of the Rev. Dr. Jennings 
and others of the Baltimore Union Society by the preacher in 
charge, Rev. J. M. Hanson. 

The transactions that are recorded in the pre- 
ceding chapter are such as seem to challenge the 
belief of the credulous, particularly when we bring 
into view the part enacted by the ministers of reli- 
gion. But the pious mind is clouded with astonish- 
ment upon a recital of the fact that the administra- 
tion of Rev. Benton Field was not only approved 
by his itinerant brethren in the ministry, but his 
official character was passed by the Virginia An- 
nual Conference, to which he was amenable. That 
conference held its subsequent session at Peters- 
burg, Va., in February, 1827. " The Granville 
Union Society of North Carolina presented to it a 
petition praying that seven of its members lately 
expelled from the M. E. Church for being members 
of said society be restored to their former standing. 
The petitioners alleged that although the charge ex- 
hibited against them was that of inveighing against 
the discipline, yet nothing was proved against them 
on the trial but their having joined the Granville 
Union Society. That when the preacher found he 


could not substantiate his charge, he put the follow- 
ing question to the society: 'You that believe their 
being members of the Union Society will have a 
bad effect will rise up.' That a majority of those 
present were of that opinion and rose up, upon 
which the preacher read them out as expelled. 
With the petition the Granville Union Society pre- 
sented a charge against the preacher for mal-ad- 
ministration ; but the conference decided that it 
was not mal-administration. Thus the door is 
closed on our unfortunate brethren, and opened 
for all the reformers to be pushed out of the 
church." * 

Early in the year 1825 a disposition was mani- 
fested to persecute reformers in Tennessee. There 
were some to be found among the membership of 
the M. E. Church in that State who openly espoused 
the doctrines of " mutual rights ;" but there too 
were to be found the opponents of such principles, 
holding the reins of power, and most unscrupulously 
willing to exercise the same, even to the expulsion 
of their Christian brethren who would venture to 
differ from them upon questions of church polity, 
as the. following extract of a letter will show, which 
was published in the " Mutual Rights" for Novem- 
ber, 1S25, and written by a member of the Bedford 
Union Society : 

" Dear Brethren, — You have already been ap- 
prised by Dr. Elgin and brother Smith that a re- 
forming society in the Methodist Episcopal Church 

* Letter of Rev. W. Harris. 


was about to be established in Bedford county, 
Tennessee. The society alluded to organized in 
May last, under the name of the 'Union Society of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church, Bedford county, 
Tennessee,' and adopted a preamble and constitu- 
tion. This measure has been most intemperately 
opposed by the itinerant preachers, a majority of 
the class leaders and stewards, as well as by some 
of the local preachers and exhorters, as you will 
see in the sequel. 

" The first regular attempt at raising this society 
was at a meeting in February last, at which time 
nothing decisive was done, except that all who 
were in favor of any alteration or amendment in 
any part of our Discipline agreed to have their 
names put on a paper to that effect, and appointed 
a committee to draw up a constitution, to be pre- 
sented at the next meeting in May. But in April, 
previous to the meeting which was to take place in 
May, and before the committee had agreed on any 
plan, our presiding elder, the Rev. James Gwinn, 
at a quarterly meeting in an adjoining circuit, (in 
which there were also some reformers,) at the close 
of his sermon on Saturday, publicly read out the 
names of fourteen official members, (some of whom 
were local preachers,) living in different circuits, 
and declared that 'these brethren had put them- 
selves out of the church, and were no longer to be 
considered Methodists.' This was not all, for at a 
Quarterly Meeting Conference in this circuit the 
Saturday following, the elder introduced a written 


resolution, the purport of which was to declare that 
the brethren whose names he had read out were no 
longer to be viewed as Methodists. But at that 
time the conference did not sanction the measure. 
After this a momentary calm ensued, and it was 
fondly hoped that in this country at least men were 
allowed liberty of conscience, as well in matters of 
church polity as in civil government, without being 
liable to the anathemas of the church. But our 
hopes were vain and delusive ; for as soon as the 
society organized in May an open war of extermi- 
nation commenced. One local preacher after an- 
other was cited to trial and suspended, and the 
Quarterly Meeting Conference have uniformly (thus 
far) expelled them from the church — but appeals 
have been taken to the Annual Conference. Indeed 
they have found out a short way with the unor- 
dained local preachers and exhorters, that is, not to 
renew their licenses. The number of local preach- 
ers expelled, cut off or censured, are nine or ten, 
besides exhorters. And those in power emphati- 
cally declare that so soon as they get the trials of 
all the official members completed, if the common 
members will not abandon the 'Union Society,' 
these also will be turned out. 

"Now that you may judge how far we ought to 
be considered revolters, as we are termed, I will 
give you an extract of what is called the most ob- 
jectionable part of our constitution, to wit : ' And 
that this amendment should introduce an equilibrium 
into said church, by admitting a representation 


from the local ministers and laymen, equal to that 
of the itinerant ministers, into all the assemblies 
convened for the purpose of making laws and regu- 
lations for her government.' And to show you the 
sentiments of our moderate presiding elder on the 
same subject, I will give you an extract from his 
sermon, preached at a camp-meeting in this county 
on Sunday last, and taken down at the time by 
myself, to wit: 'That God, in his word, never de- 
signed common members to have anything to do with 
the management of the church — that his ministers 
are the only judges of what is right and wrong, both 
as it relates to spiritual matters and church govern- 
ment; because God has called them to the work — 
that even these ministers have no riobt to legislate 
about church matters, as their only guide is the 
Bible; but that, for their own convenience, they may 
make rules and regulations for the government of 
the societies they have raised.' Thus you see 
what kind of equality and freedom exists in our 
church in this land of liberty. 

" The main motive in making this communica- 
tion is to ask the counsel and advice of the Balti- 
more Union Society in relation to the course we 
ought to pursue, for, although a strong effort will be 
made bv the reformers at our next annual Confer- 
ence to reverse the decisions had against them ; yet 
I am fearful it will not avail. In the event of my 
fears being realized, the only alternative then will 
be, either to ask forgiveness, submit to the yoke, 
and abandon every attempt at a redress of our 


grievances, or organize another church. What 
would be best ? We love the Methodist Church; 
we love her doctrines ; we love her ordinances ; we 
love the itinerating plan ; and we love her ministers ; 
but we believe God will smile upon our efforts if 
we are driven from the church, and thereby com- 
pelled to separate, because we have not attempted 
to do any thing more than the Bible and the laws of 
our free and happy country will justify. I contem- 
plate the possibility of a separation with fear and 
trembling, and ask counsel in the sight of God." 

The progress of the principles of reform has been 
onward from the beginning. Though the hydra- 
headed monster persecution had reared its hideous 
front in many places, and the advocates of " mutual 
rights " had been made to feel the oppressive hand 
of power, yet the friends of religious liberty still 
hoped that a brighter day would yet dawn upon 
them ; that their itinerant brethren would be brought 
to acknowledge the "rights and privileges" of the 
laity and local ministry, inasmuch as many of them 
were known to be in favor of their claims to repre- 
sentation in the rule-making department of the 
church. Hitherto we have seen that the persecu- 
tions which had been carried on against the advo- 
cates of reform were waged by the itinerant minis- 
try individually, and had merely received the sanc- 
tion of Annual Conference. But in the beginning 
of the year 1827, we have the strange spectacle ex- 
hibited to us of an Annual Conference of ministers 
of the gospel in solemn assembly taking an active 


part in these inquisitorial proceedings, as the fol- 
lowing extract from the "Mutual Rights" for June 
of that year will show. 

"On Wednesday the ISth of April, the Rev. 
Dennis B. Dorsey was 'charged before the Balti- 
more Annual Conference with having been actively 
engaged in the circulation of an improper periodi- 
cal work.' A confidential letter from Mr. Dorsey 
to a friend, recommending to his attention the 
Mutual Rights, as an important work on church 
government, was produced in evidence, and read 
in the conference. Mr. Dorsey acknowledged the 
letter to be his, but did not consider that he had 
violated any law by recommending the above work. 
After Mr. Dorsey had retired, the following resolu- 
tion was offered by the Rev. Stephen G. Roszel, 
and adopted by the conference: 'Resolved, that 
Dennis B. Dorsey's character pass, upon his being 
admonished by the president, and promising the 
conference that he will desist from taking any 
agency in spreading or supporting any publications 
in opposition to our discipline or government.' 

"On the following day the admonition was given 
in due form from the chair ; but Mr. Dorsey could 
not be induced to make the promise required by the 
resolution. He objected to it as unreasonable and 
unjust — there being no law in the Discipline prohib- 
iting any preacher from recommending or circulat- 
ing such works as the Mutual Rights. He stated 
that he was willing to promise the conference to be 
submissive to the discipline and government of 


the church, and to recommend like obedience to 
others, until by the legislative authority of the church 
some modification of the government could be 
effected. A promise embracing more than this 
he informed them he could not make. 

" On Friday the case was again resumed, and Mr. 
Dorsey was pressed to make the promise required 
by the resolution, which he still declined, urging, as 
before, the injustice of the requirement. Upon 
which the Rev. Stephen G. Roszel made the follow- 
ing motion: 'Moved, that the character of brother 
Dorsey pass, upon his being reproved by the presi- 
dent for his contumacy in resisting the authority of 
the conference.' This motion, however, did not 
prevail. After considerable desultory conversation 
on the case, the following resolution was offered by 
the Rev. Job Guest, and adopted by the confer- 
ence: 'Moved and seconded, that the bishops be 
and hereb} 7 are requested not to give Dennis B. 
Dorsey an appointment for the present year ; and 
that his name be so returned on the minutes, with 
the reasons assigned why he has not an appoint- 
ment, viz: his contumacy in regard to the authority 
.of the conference.' On Saturday the latter part of 
this motion was so far rescinded as to omit the 
publication of it on the printed minutes of the 
conference, but to retain it on the journal. 

" Thus was brother Dorse}'-, a presbyter in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, without any charge 
against his moral or religious character, left, by the 
order of the conference, without a prospect of sup- 


port for himself and family, and that, too, with a 
constitution seriously injured in the service of the 

Who can read the preceding narrative without 
his sympathies being drawn out in behalf of this 
wronged and misused man? The news of the 
action of the Baltimore Annual Conference in this 
case created quite a sensation throughout the entire 
borders of the church, and called forth just expres- 
sions of disapprobation and condemnation from the 
friends of moderation and equal rights in all quar- 
ters. Union Societies in different parts of the 
United States passed resolutions approving the 
stand taken by Mr. Dorsey, and censuring in strong 
terms the action of the Annual Conference in the 
premises. Liberal contributions were forwarded 
by the friends of reform from different quarters to 
Baltimore, for his relief and support, and the spirit 
that was manifested towards him by the friends of 
"mutual rights" was worthy of such men and of 
such a cause. Among the itinerant ranks there 
were many who reprobated in strong terms the un- 
just and iniquitous sentence thus passed upon him. 
Epistles of consolation were addressed to this martyr 
of mutual rights by several of the traveling minis- 
ters of the M. E. Church, some of which reflected 
severely upon the conduct of the Baltimore Annual 
Conference. No doubt many of them were taken 
by surprise, as well as they knew men, when they 
learned of the unjust treatment meted out to Mr. 
Dorsey by the supporters of Episcopal authority. 


Innocence and truth may suffer, but among the vir- 
tuous and good they never fail to find friends in the 
hour of trial. Even so in the case of this Christian 
minister; there were men who boldly came forth to 
sustain him in the face of fearful ecclesiastical au- 
thority, and denounced in unmeasured terms the 
treatment he had received at the hands of the con- 
ference. The writer begs leave to introduce here a 
letter addressed to the Rev. D. B. Dorsey by the 
Rev. H. B. Bascom, and published in the Mutual 
Rights for May, 1827, inasmuch as Dr. Bascom is 
ranked among the ablest exponents of Methodist 
Episcopacy by the membership of that communion, 
and his claims have been supported by some for the 
episcopal office. 

April 27, 1827. 
My Dear Sir : 

Not knowing you personally, nor the place of your 
residence, I ask the privilege of addressing you 
through the medium of the Mutual Rights, for ap- 
proving and recommending of which you now stand 
suspended as a Methodist traveling preacher! The 
Baltimore Annual Conference of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church — with three or more bishops pre- 
sent to direct and shape its measures — have, by a 
solemn resolution, after several days' deliberation, 
officially decided that a presbyter in the church of 
God deserves punishment and disgrace, because he 
adopts opinions and sentiments, on the subject of 
church government, w r hich are received and acted 
upon by a large majority of Protestant Christians 


throughout the various divisions of the religious 
world ! I cannot pause, my brother, to write the 
many denunciations that common sense, throughout 
an outraged community, will pronounce upon this 
overbearing act of abandoned tyranny! But I 
hasten to inquire why were you selected as the vic- 
tim, the sole victim, when it was in proof before them 
that others were in the same condemnation! Why 
did not " my lord of Canterbury" who "rides in 
the whirlwind and directs the storm" among you, 
and by whom even bishops are tithed at will, to- 
gether with the active and zealous doctor, the prin- 
pal officer in his " star chamber," select a goodly 
number of victims, and offer an appalling hecatomb 
at once! Was it because heaven had deprived you 
of health? Was it because you were remote from 
home and friends? Was it because, like your Mas- 
ter, you were poor, and with the humble sharer of 
fortunes "had scarcely where to lay your head ?" 
Did they wish, by increasing your mental inquietude, 
to strengthen the desolation without, and so send 
you to a premature grave? Or was it intended by 
the horror of the example made of you, to say to 
other reformers, "If you have the word, we the 
sword!" I cannot refrain from asking where three 
or four members of the Baltimore Conference were 
d uring this labored deed of hard-earned infamy ? 
Did they sit by in inglorious silence ? But, my 
brother, be not discouraged, recollect that the great 
father of us all, as Methodists, was by a similar 
body and in the same city forty years ago, declared 


unworthy of name or place in that communion, in 
the bosom of which you now find yourself honora- 
bly degraded. When Mr. Wesley was informed of 
this, he declared, in a letter now in my possession, 
that the American bishop had "no more connection 
with him." But I trust you will not so decide in 
relation to your blinded and prejudiced brethren. 
"Yet a little while," and this stupid, laudean zeal, 
will be cooled in the humiliation and disgrace of 
your persecutors; public indignation will chastise 
their pitiful pretensions to lordly inquisition over the 
rights and consciences of those who have too much 
intelligence and too much candor to think and act 
by their prescription ! To conclude, my dear sir, 
I beg you to accept the best wishes of a stranger, 
"faint not in the day of evil ;" the honorary over- 
throw you have sustained, for the rights of con- 
science, will make strangers your friends : on hear- 
ing of the treatment you and others received at the 
Baltimore Conference, ten or twelve persons within 
my charge have declared for reform, and are ready 
to aid you with their influence and purses. Wish- 
ing the speedy restoration of your health, and that 
you may live to see the cause of religious oppres- 
sion banished from the church and the world, 

I remain yours in the kingdom and patience of 
Jesus. Vixdex. 

Rev. D. B. Dorset. 

The preceding letter from the pen of Dr. Bas- 
com breathes forth the sentiments of a genuine 


reformer. And although at the time a traveling 
minister himself in the Methodist connexion, yet he 
could venture to denounce the treatment received 
by the Rev. Mr. Dorsey at the hands of the Annual 
Conference, and reflect most severely upon the in- 
justice of such treatment. Nor did the doctor stop 
at this; but followed it up by a second, in vindica- 
tion of the positions taken in the first, which is, if 
possible, the more severe of the two; the last men- 
tioned letter is to be found published in the Mutual 
Rights for August. 

The honest inquirer- after truth might be reasona- 
bly led to ask the question, was not Dr. Bascom 
called to account and dealt with, for the freedom 
and boldness of his reflections upon the action of the 
Baltimore Annual Conference in the case of Mr. 
Dorse} 7 ? The answer is no. "The powers that 
be" in the M. E. Church, at that time, seem to have 
had different methods of dealing with different men. 
Rev. D. B. Dorsey circulated or recommended the 
Mutual Rights; for this he was proscribed by the 
Annual Conference. Rev. H. B. Bascom, D. D., 
wrote and published in that same work, the Mutual 
Rights, such strictures as the preceding, upon 
and against a conference of Methodist minis- 
ters, with three bishops at their head, and no 
charges are brought against him. And, unless his- 
tory tells a dubious tale, it was not long after these 
things took place that the doctor was appointed 
to a professorship in one of the western colleges 
under the patronage and control of the M. E. 


Church,* since which time his pen has ceased to 
write such strictures. In order that the reader may 
have a full view of all the points in the case of 
Rev. Mr. Dorsey, the writer will subjoin his reply 
to Rev. H. B. Bascom. 

Baltimore, May 15, 1827. 
Rev. and Dear Sir : 

I have had the pleasure of reading your affection- 
ate communication, addressed to me through the 
medium of the Mutual Rights, and now enjoy the 
pleasure of returning you, through the same me- 
dium, my grateful acknowledgments for the solici- 
tude you evince on my behalf. In the meantime 
I am not unmindful of the great principles on which 
this matter is predicated, of which I presume you 
are an advocate. As you put several interrogato- 
ries relative to the case, for your personal informa- 
tion I will give you a glance at the whole affair. I 
am the more inclined to this than to entire silence, 
under existing circumstances, for two reasons. 
The first regards the reputation of our conference, 
which is as liable to be tarnished as my own ; and the 
second is grounded on the special regard which I 
must necessarily feel for my character, as a Christian 
and a minister of the gospel. This brief history shall 
be given from my best recollections, and the least ex- 
ceptionable means of information. If there should 
be any apparent mis-statement, I hope no brother 
will attribute it to design ; and that if any one be 

* See History of the M. E. Church by N. Bangs. 


prepared to correct it, he will do so through this 
public medium, before he undertakes to correct or 
criminate in a private manner. 

Some time last Februar}^ I wrote a few lines to 
a friend, Mr. Hugh Sharp, in which I gave him in- 
formation "of a work on church government pub- 
lishing in Baltimore, by a committee of u Methodist 
preachers and members, exposing to open view 
some of the errors in our government and adminis- 
tration." I also informed him that the work "was 
a very satisfactory one, well worth his attention;" 
that 1 had " taken it more than eighteen months, and 
was well pleased with it ;" that it contained so 
many pages, and came at so much per year; that 
several in that part took it and were well pleased 
with it ; and finally requested him to let me know 
immediately if he desired to have the work, and to 
inquire of a brother, whom I named, whether he 
would take it also. In conclusion, I remarked to 
him, " you need not mention this to any other per- 
son, if you please." But when Mr. Robert Min- 
shall, the preacher in charge of Huntingdon circuit 
came round, my friend Sharp betrayed me, by giv- 
ing him my letter to read. Mr. Minshall then, ac- 
cording to his own telling in conference, asked him 
for a copy of the letter, to which he replied that he 
might have the original, as it was of no use to him. 
About this time there was a letter written by Mr. 
Minshall to Mr. David Steele, giving him informa- 
tion that I was actively engaged in circulating the 
Mutual Rights, and probably censuring me for such 


conduct. This information was communicated to 
Mr. John Davis, who in his turn reported it again, 
until, finally, it was brought before the late Annual 
Conference, first in the form of an objection, and then 
as a charge. After the commencement of the con- 
ference, I had an interview with Mr. Davis, who 
gave me an assurance that, as I would give him no 
satisfaction in his interrogatives, he could not pass 
over it on the examination of my character. Ac- 
cordingly, when my name was called, in the exam- 
ination of characters, Mr. S. G. Roszel arose and 
made some objections, stating, as I was informed by 
members of conference, (for I was too unwell to be 
present,) that I had been away from my circuit the 
past year, under the pretence of being ajflicted, but 
had been traveling extensively, circulating a work 
derogator}' to the interests of the church. My case 
was then postponed until I could be present. 

The following or second day after, I was pre- 
sent, when my name was called, and the inquiry 
instituted, whether there was any thing against my 
character. Certain members of the conference re- 
plied that there was, but the brother who had made 
the objection was absent. Mr. Roszel, being sent 
for, came in and stated his objection, on the ground 
above mentioned. This led to reference for infor- 
mation, and Messrs. Steele and Minshall were re- 
ferred to as informants. My letter was now pro- 
duced by Mr. Minshall, who stated how he obtained 
it, and intimated that it had now accidentally come 
in place, as he thought, when he obtained it, might 


some time be the case. The letter was then read, 
and the president, Mr. Soule, remarked that if I had 
any thing to say in reply, I was now at liberty to 
speak for myself. As I saw no formal charge, I had 
nothing to say, only to acknowledge the letter read 
to be my own production. I then retired, and 
after considerable deliberation on the subject, the 
case was decided. Some brother, in passing out 
of the conference, remarked to me that I could now 
go in, which left me under the impression that my 
character had passed. I then went in and re- 
mained until conference adjourned, but heard no 
official announcement of the decision until next day. 
I learned however, in the meantime, the nature of 
the decision, in part, but could find no one to give 
it to me in full. 

The next morning, when the journal of the pre- 
ceding day was read, there was a formal charge 
recorded, which was "for having been actively en- 
gaged in the circulation of an improper periodical 
work." The president then announced to me 
from the chair that the decision of the confer- 
ence in my case was, "that my character should 
pass, upon my being admonished by the president, 
and promising the conference that 1 would desist 
from taking any agency in spreading or supporting 
any publication in opposition to our discipline or 
government." The admonition was then given 
from the chair, after I had signified my disposition 
to submit to it, for the sake of brethren's con- 
sciences. I was then required to give a pledge 


that I would comply with the latter part of the 
resolution, which I refused to do, while the resolu- 
tion remained in its unqualified form. I then re- 
plied to all the important items of the admonition, 
and gave my reasons for not complying with the 
latter part of the resolution. The following is the 
substance : 

Mr. President, — With you I admit the import- 
ance of clearly ascertaining that we have found the 
truth before we undertake to communicate it ; and 
that when we do communicate it, we ought to be 
careful to cultivate the spirit of Christianity, lest it 
be attended with greater injury than good to our 
fellow men. These considerations have governed 
me throughout ; and God forbid I should ever depart 
from them ! As it regards the allusion to my 
promises, before I received ordination, to be obedi- 
ent to my superiors, and not to " mend our rules, 
but keep them," I reply that I regret exceedingly 
that when I made such promises I was not better 
qualified to judge of our discipline and government. 
I was young, inexperienced and uninformed. I 
perceived no errors in either of these. But, sir, if 
I now had to pass tha,t examination, I should cer- 
tainly be strict in qualifying my promises, as I do 
believe there are rules of discipline, as well as prac- 
tices in our administration, which ought to be 

I do, sir, as firmly and fully believe in our doc- 
trines, generally, as any brother ; and have endea- 
vored, since I became a member of our church, to 


obey them ; nor do I now feel any abatement of my 
purpose to persevere in this path of duty to the end, 
by the grace of God assisting me. I have uniformly 
recommended our Discipline to others, as well as 
labored to conform to its mandates myself; and in 
this course, too, I feel inclined to persevere until 
some better modification of them shall be intro- 
duced by the proper authorit}^ of the church, or un- 
til they be repealed. And as to the grand funda- 
mentals of our government, (meaning the itinerant 
operations,) no member of this conference feels 
more disposed to support them than I do. But, sir, 
believing as I do that there are some of the minutiae 
of our discipline and government which could be 
modified to advantage, 1 wish to enjoy the privilege 
of examining the subject by reading ecclesiastical 
history, the "Mutual Rights," or any thing else 
which will afford me the necessary information. 
And when I am fully convinced that I have ob- 
tained a knowledge of the truth, I desire the privi- 
lege of communicating it in the best possible manner 
to the church and the world, either verbally or 
otherwise. And although I should rejoice to have 
the sanction of this conference in so doing, yet if 
it cannot be obtained, I must beg the privilege of 
pursuing the course which my judgment and con- 
science dictate. 

You admit that the 'preachers have a right to read 

and examine the "Mutual Rights," or any thing else 

they please. And is it not admitted that they have 

the same right to communicate to others what they 



learn ? Are we to retain our information, and 
neither speak nor write about it ? No, sir, I cannot 
suffer any man or body of men to trammel my 
rational faculties in their search for truth ; nor to 
restrain them from promulgating it when obtained ; 
and I now reserve to myself the entire privilege of 
doing so, either verbally or in any other manner I 
judge most expedient. 

I have read the " Mutual Rights," sir, for myself, 
and think highly of the work, and recommend it to 
every member of this conference. The bishops them- 
selves read it, the preachers read it, the book agents 
read it, and exchange the " Methodist Magazine " 
for it ; and will any one say that the people have no 
right to read it ? Without an act of reason, my in- 
telligence itself, on the first blush of the subject, 
forces this language upon me, if bishops, preachers 
and book agents read this book with impunity, then 
all the members of our church ought to enjoy the 
same privilege. But I must come to the conclusion 
and application of this argument. If the members 
have as good a right to read the " Mutual Rights " 
as the ministry, (which all must admit, or else deny- 
that they are free,) and if the ministers undoubtedly 
have this right, as has been admitted on this floor 
by bishops and others, then there is no argument to 
set aside the consequence, that it is the right of any 
preacher to recommend the work to the people, if he 
judge it would be profitable to them. And every 
attempt to inflict punishment on a preacher for 
recommending it to the people is an absolute, 


though indirect, declaration that they are not at 
liberty to read and examine for themselves. If it 
be a preacher's right, how can you punish me for 
so doing ? Yet I have been punished with an admo- 
nition for recommending the "Mutual Kights" to one 
or two members, for this is all the proof you had 
against me. 

After this I retired, and the sense of the confer- 
ence was taken whether my reply was satisfactory, 
and the vote was given in the negative. I was 
again called in and interrogated on the subject, but 
replied as before, in my own language, qualifying my 
promises, and yielding so fa?- as 1 could without 
sacrificing the clearest dictates of my judgment and 
conscience. I again retired, and, as I was in- 
formed, the question, " whether my character pass," 
was again put to the conference, and answered by 
a vote in the negative. It was then " moved that 
the case be postponed till to-monow." 

The next day the case was again resumed, and 
I was once more interrogated. I replied in sub- 
stance as follows: 

Mr. President, — Upon a candid re-examination of 
the subject, I am prepared to reiterate the remarks 
which I offered }^esterday, relative to my disposi- 
tion to render a respectful obedience to our disci- 
pline and government. But I request the confer- 
ence, if they please, to favor me with the rule of dis- 
cipline on which 1 have been charged, tried and pun- 
ished, that I may be better prepared to conclude 
how to shape my course. (No law was given.) If 


there be any rule, and you have proceeded accord- 
ing to it, then I am subject to no further penalty, 
unless I can be punished twice for the same 

It has just now been suggested to me by a brother 
at my left hand that there is a law of the General 
Conference, passed at their last session, requiring 
our preachers not to become agents for other book- 
sellers, &c. Now, supposing this law to apply to 
the case in hand, (which we believe it will not,) I 
knew nothing about its existence until half an hour 
ago ; and how then could I keep or break it ? It is 
not in our Discipline. A law must be promulgated 
before it can be in force; for "where there is no 
law" there can be "no transgression." How then 
can I be punished for the transgression of that law? 
I feel myself as much bound as any member of this 
conference to keep the laws of the General Confer- 
ence, until they shall be amended or repealed. 
When I violate any one of those laws I am amena- 
ble at this tribunal, and, if found guilty, subject to 
punishment, and am willing to submit to it. But I 
cannot be punished now for an offence which I may 
or may not commit hereafter, without a violation of 
justice. Moreover, it has been suggested by the 
president that " an Annual Conference has author- 
ity to make rules and regulations for its own mem- 
bers." Admitted. Rules and regulations are not 
laws to regulate moral conduct, I presume. This 
conference is now sitting in a legislative or execu- 
tive capacity. If the former, then not the latter ; 


and if the latter, not the former. If you are sitting 
in an executive capacity, how can you enact laws 
for yourselves to execute? if in a legislative capa- 
city, how can you execute your own laws ? unless 
you prove that these two powers should be united 
in one body, which would astonish my understand- 
ing, and prove a monstrous anomaly in ecclesiasti- 
cal government in this country. 

But if this conference had the power both to enact 
laws for the regulation of the moral characters of 
its members, and to execute such laws when en- 
acted, surely none would argue that you had au- 
thority to punish one of your members for a breach 
of a law before it is broken or even enacted! And 
when was the law enacted which prohibits any 
of your body from recommending the " Mutual 
Rights ?" the supposed offence for which I have 
suffered the punishment of an admonition. 

I might easily say much more on the subject, for 
it is one of the deepest moment to me ; but suffer 
me to close my remarks by referring brethren to the 
many hard things which some of them have said on 
this floor ; and also to what some of them have 
written and published in opposition to certain parts 
of our discipline and government; and let me re- 
quest them to refer to those things when they shall 
give their vote in this case. 

I now retired again, and Mr. Roszel offered the 

following motion : " That the character of brother 

Dorset) pass, upon his being reproved by the president for 

his contumacy in resisting the authority of the conference." 



This motion did not prevail. The following motion 
was then offered by Mr. Job Guest, but written, as 
the secretary says, by Mr. F. S. Evans : " Moved 
and seconded, that the bishops be and hereby are 
requested not to give Dennis B. Dorsey an appoint- 
ment for the present year, and that his name be so 
returned on the minutes, with the reasons assigned 
why he has not an appointment, viz: his contumacy 
in regard to the conference.'' This motion was 
divided, and the first and second parts adopted 
separately. The resolution being read to me, 
when called in, I requested a transcript from the 
journal of all the proceedings in the case ; and sig- 
nified a probability of my appealing to the General 
Conference against their decision. My request was 
laid over, however, till the next day. 

When the case was called up on the following 
day, on motion of Mr. Joshua Wells, it was resolved, 
that the last resolution passed on yesterday, rela- 
tive to the return of the name on the minutes, be 
amended, and "that the words, 'with the reasons 
assigned why he has not an appointment, viz: his 
contumacy in regard to the authority of the confer- 
ence,' be retained on the journal, but not published 
on the minutes." This motion was adopted. The 
same day, as I could not be present on account of 
bodily indisposition, J wrote to the conference, in- 
forming them of my determination to appeal to the 
General Conference, and requested them to pass a 
resolution that this appeal be inserted in the minutes 
along with their former resolution. In that letter 


I renewed my request for a transcript from the 
journals. Mr. Robert Cadden then moved that my 
" request be not granted." The secretary, Mr. 
Waugh, and others, made some remarks on the im- 
propriety of my obtaining such a document, without 
some restraint not to publish it until the General 
Conference. This motion was lost. After this, it 
was, on motion of Mr. Roszel, "resolved that" my 
" request be granted.'''' 

Thus, dear sir, you have an outline of this afflict- 
ive and protracted trial ; and you are now left to 
form your own opinion concerning the nature and 
grounds of the charge — the manner in which it was 
introduced — the proofs by which it was sustained — 
the decisions of the conference in the case — and my 
merit or demerit of the penalties inflicted. Solicit- 
ing an interest in your petitions to the God of all 
grace, that I may have that love which " endureth 
all things," and " thinketh no evil," I subscribe 
myself, dear brother, your fellow laborer ia the 
cause of religious liberty and in the ministry of 
reconciliation, Dennis B. Dorsey. 

To Vindex. 

The treatment received by Mr. Dorsey at the 
hands of the Baltimore Annual Conference, al- 
though it was an act unlooked for by the friends 
of reform, yet did not dampen the ardor of the 
true friends of mutual rights. They saw the storm 
was gathering, and they were nerved for the 


The part which the Baltimore Union Society 
took in making public, through the " Mutual Rights," 
the facts in Mr. Dorsey's case, and the expression 
of their opinion on the conduct of the Baltimore 
Annual Conference, brought down upon them the 
displeasure of its ministers. 

"The Rev. James M.Han son and Beverly Waugh, 
preachers in charge of the City and Point Stations, 
immediately excluded fou rteenlocal preachers, who 
were reformers residing in Baltimore, from all the 
Methodist pulpits in this city. Several of the pro- 
scribed and persecuted brethren were formerly 
traveling preachers ; most of them had been preach- 
ers from fifteen to thirty years ; and all of them had 
contributed to the support of the itinerant ministry, 
and towards the building of those very houses of 
worship in which they were now considered un- 
worthy to officiate. The private members were 
also made to feel the displeasure of men in power 
in various ways. A brother, Mr. John Gephart, 
whose religious character stood fair, and who was 
recommended by his leader as a suitable person to 
be admitted into full membership in the Methodist 
Church, was rejected b} r Mr. Hanson because he was 
a member of the Baltimore Union Society. It was now 
very evident, from these facts, and from the threats 
thrown out by anti- re formers, that a storm of per- 
secution was gathering over the heads of the mem- 
bers of the Union Society. They were, however, 
not dismayed, but calmly awaited the crisis, trust- 
ing in the protection of Almighty God, and resting 



their cause on the sure foundation of truth and 

"Measures were now taken to expel the principal 
members of the Baltimore Union Society, in conse- 
quence of their having exposed the unjustifiable 
conduct of the Annual Conference. 

"A secret meeting of anti-reformers was convened 
in July at a school-room in this city; several trav- 
eling preachers were present, and a plan was 
adopted to effect the expulsion of the proscribed 
members. A committee of seven anti-reformers 
were appointed, who with the assistance of the 
preacher in charge, Rev. James M. Hanson, were 
to effect this desirable object. The writer had an 
interview with the principal member of the com- 
mittee a day or two after their appointment, and re- 
quested some information relative to their instruc- 
tions. He replied, 'I will give you the informa- 
tion you desire very cheerfully, and in a few words. 
You and your friends are members of the Union 
Society, and say you will not leave it. You pub- 
lish the Mutual Rights, and say you will not discon- 
tinue that publication. You also say you will not 
withdraw from the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
Now we are reduced to one of two alternatives; 
either to let you remain members of the church, and 
let you go on peacefully publishing the Mutual 
Rights, by which you agitate the church, or to ex- 
pel you. We have come to the determination to 
take the latter alternative and expel you. It is 
therefore made the duty of our committee to 


examine the 'Mutual Rights,' and if we find any 
thing- in that work which is a violation of the Dis- 
cipline, we are authorized to bring charges and have 
you expelled.' 

" Here was a frank avowal of the intentions of the 
anti-reformers. 1. They had determined to expel 
the leading reformers in Baltimore, because they 
were members of the Union Society. 2. Because 
they would continue to investigate the principles of 
church government. 3. Because they would not 
withdraw from the church. 4. That some pretext 
was to be sought by which to justify their excom- 
munication. 5. The Mutual Rights were to be 
'examined' in order to find some real or pretended 
accusation by which these holy men of God might 
effect the expulsion of their brethren and fathers. 

" Whilst the prosecuting committee were engaged 
in examining the 'Mutual Rights' and preparing 
charges, another part of the plan was developed. A 
meeting of all the male members belonging to the two 
stations, exclusive of reformers, was called on the 
7th of August, in the little old Baptist meeting 
house on Pitt street. At that meeting a resolution 
was passed approving of the conduct of the con- 
ference in Mr. Dorsey's case; and an 'address,' 
which had been previously prepared by a deserter 
from the ranks of reform, was read, and ordered to 
be published, in which the members of the Union 
Society, and other reformers, were denounced as 
' enemies to Methodism,' &c. One of them in 
particular was named, and assailed in the most 


intemperate, unchristian and abusive language. The 
conduct of the preachers in charge, who had ex- 
cluded the fourteen preachers from the pulpits, was 
also approved and sanctioned by the meeting. The 
obvious and immediate design of this meeting was 
to prepare the people to witness the excommunication 
of their friends and relatives, without those feelings 
of abhorrence and indignation which flagrant acts of 
injustice and cruelty were calculated to inspire in the 
bosom of every pious man and woman in the city. 

" By the first of September Mr. Hanson was ready 
with his select committees of trial; one to suspend 
the preachers, and the other to condemn the lay- 
men. There were nine persons on the two com- 
mittees, three preachers and six laymen, all of 
whom had assisted to appoint the members of the 
prosecuting committee, at the meeting held in the 
schoolroom; and had prejudged and condemned the 
members of the Union Society at the meeting held 
in the little Baptist church above referred to on the 
7th of August. Some of them had publicly de- 
clared that ' if they had the power they would ex- 
pel every member of the Union Society from the 
church.' Yet these men were selected by Mr. 
Hanson to act as jurors to condemn, that he might 
expel the members of the Union Societ} r , and w T ere 
retained by him on the trials, notwithstanding they 
were repeatedly objected to on these very accounts."* 

Such were the preparations made in Baltimore 
by the opposers of reform, and such were the men 

* See History of the M. P. Church by Rev. James R. Williams, 
pp. 166—69. 


before whom the friends of mutual rights were to be 
brought forth and tried in the church of God for 
their opinions upon church polity. After reading 
the preceding graphic description, given by one 
who was of the number doomed to martyrdom, 
the conclusion is irrestibly forced upon us, that the 
Rev. Mr. Hanson and his compeers in the work of 
proscription fondly looked forward to no other issue 
than that which they finally obtained, viz : the ex- 
pulsion from the church of the Redeemer of those 
faithful ministers and members for the onerous sin 
of differing with them in opinion upon the subject of 
church polity. 

Early in September the arrangements appear to 
have been completed, arjfl Mr. Hanson entered 
vigorously upon the campaign of his unholy cru- 
sade. The following notice was sent, to each of the 
accused. The subjoined is a copy of the one sent 
to Dr. S. K. Jennings. 

Baltimore, September 8, 1827. 

Rev. Sir, — You are hereby informed that charges 
have been preferred against you by the following 
persons, J. Rogers, S. Hardin, J. Berry, I. N. Toy, 
A. Yearly, G. Earnest and F. Israel. 

As it is desirable for the satisfaction of all who 
feel an interest in the matter that a hearing should 
be had as soon as practicable, it is hoped that 
Tuesday evening next, at 7 o'clock, will suit your 
convenience. Yours respectfully, 

James M. Hanson. 

Rev. Dr. S. K. Jennings. 



To the foregoing note the following reply was 

I have also to say to you that the nature of my 
defence will make it imperiously necessary for me 
to correspond with the several writers, for the pub- 
lication of whose papers, as one of the editors of a 
periodical work, I am called to give an account. 
This circumstance, together with other and very 
important parts of my intended defence, will neces- 
sarily require a good deal of time. A proper sense 
of justice on the part of the executive, therefore, will 
certainly protect me against the violence of being 
urged to too hasty a hearing. 

I am, &c. S. K. Jennings. 

Rev. J. M. Hanson. 

Dr. Jennings was a member of the Baltimore 
Union Society, and a member of the editorial com- 
mittee, and as a matter of course was deemed by Mr. 
Hanson a friend and patron of the Mutual Rights — 
upon this the charges and specifications against 
him were all based, and in order to his defence, it 
was important in his case that he should have some 
correspondence with the writers of those articles in 
the Mutual Rights, which were regarded so objec- 
tionable by the men in power. But this boon was 
denied him. Hear Mr. Hanson in reply. 

"I am no less astonished that you should think it 

all-important to your intended defence, to have a 

correspondence with the writers of those pieces 

which the brethren above alluded to have desig-. 



nated. The sentiments and expressions which are 
deemed exceptionable have been published to the 
world and speak for themselves. With the writers 
for the "Mutual Rights," scattered as they are over 
the continent, the charges in question have no im- 
mediate concern ; nor is it easy to see how these 
writers are to render you any assistance. They 
can furnish no testimony — they can undo nothing 
that you, as a member of the editorial committee 
may have done; and without designing to flatter, I 
may be permitted to say they can place the subject 
in question in no light in which it has not appeared 
to your own mind ; seeing that it has been with you 
a subject of close and deep deliberation for several 
years. Under these impressions, and desirous, for 
the good of all concerned, to bring the matter to as 
speedy an issue as is consistent with a proper sense 
of justice, it is deemed altogether unadvisable to fix 
upon any period for investigation beyond Monday 
17th, at 7 o'clock P. M. I am, Sec. 

James M. Hanson. 

Rev. Dr. S. K. Jennings. 

P. S. Should you prefer any evening prior to 
the time above mentioned, be good enough to let 
us know. J. M. H. 

Accordingly on the 17th of September, 1827, the 
trial of Dr. Jennings came on. Rev. James M. 
Hanson in the chair. Rev. Samuel Williams, John 
W. Harris and Thomas Basford, committee. 

Mr. Israel, on the part of the prosecution, opened 
the case as follows : 


I have nothing personal against Dr. Jennings, I 
have the highest regard and personal esteem for 
him. I regret that this course was unavoidable. 
We had no other alternative. We were driven to 
this course. We have been told by the members of 
the Union Society that they must have lay delega- 
tion. They say, also, they will never withdraw 
from the church. Lay delegation we believe is not 
practicable or expedient. With these views we 
never can agree; we are as distant as the poles. 
The Mutual Rights have produced wranglings, dis- 
putations and division. Are there not two parties? 
Every religious community has a right to form its 
own discipline, and its members are not at liberty 
to disturb it. While they remain members of the 
church, they have no right to form and be members 
of the Union Society. We claim what we conceive 
to be a right of ours, and we ought to be left in the 
peaceable enjoyment of our rights. 

The rules which we think have been violated 
are to be found on pages 7S and 91 of the Disci- 
pline, as designated in the charges and specifications 
upon which this trial is founded ; and we refer to 
the Mutual Rights in extenso in proof of the charges. 
But more particularly to the references which are 
appended to the specifications. 


The Rev. Dr. Samuel K. Jennings is charged 
with endeavoring to sow dissensions in the society 
or church in this station or city, known by the 


name of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and with 
the violation of that general rule of the Discipline of 
the said church or society which prohibits its mem- 
bers from doing harm, and requires them to avoid 
evil of every kind; and especially with violating 
that clause of said general rule which prohibits 
speaking evil of ministers. 

Specification 1st. Because the said Samuel 
K. Jennings, while a member and a local preacher 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church aforesaid, did 
heretofore attach himself to and become a member 
of the society called the Union Society of the city of 
Baltimore ; which Union Society is in opposition to 
the Discipline, in whole or in part, of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church aforesaid. 

Specification 2d. Because of the said Samuel K. 
Jennings, as a member of said Union Society, 
directly or indirectly, either by pecuniary contribu- 
tions or his personal influence, aiding, abetting, co- 
operating or assisting in the publication and circu- 
lation of a work called "The Mutual Rights of 
the ministers and members of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church," printed under the direction of an 
editorial committee, (of which the said S. K. Jen- 
nings is or lately was one,) appointed by, or who are 
members of the Union Society aforesaid, which 
work or publication, called "The Mutual Rights of 
the ministers and members of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church" contains (among other things) much 
that inveighs against the Discipline of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church aforesaid, in whole or in part, 


and is in direct opposition thereto; and that is 
abusive or speaks evil of a part, if not of most of the 
ministers of that church. The general tendency of 
which work or publication has been to produce dis- 
agreement, strife, contention and breach of union 
among the members of said church in this city or 

Specification 3d. Because the said Samuel K. 
Jennings, as a member of the Union Society 
aforesaid, did devise, request, or recommend, the 
publication of a pamphlet entitled " The History 
and Mystery of Methodist Episcopacy," written by 
the Rev. Alexander McCaine, in which various de- 
clarations and assertions are made without proper 
proof or just foundation, calculated to disgrace and 
bring reproach upon the Methodist Episcopal Church 
aforesaid, its ministers and members ; and which 
declarations and assertions are well calculated to 
produce, increase, and heighten the disagreement, 
strife, contention and breach of union alluded to in 
the 2d specification. 

For proof of which, the publication entitled " The 
Mutual Rights of the ministers and members of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church" is referred to, and 

No. 1, page 31, Constitution of the Union Society of Baltimore. 
" 7, " 261, Essays on church property, Nos. 1 &2, by Rev, 

N. Snethen. 
" 25, '• 26, Joseph Walker's letter, Alabama. 
" 27, " 53, Luther on Representation. 
"29, " 100, Timothy's Address to Junior Bishop. 
" 30, " 147, Dissenter. 


No. 32, page 199, Rev. A. Shinn's Appeal. 
" 33, " 214, Granville Union Society. 
" 34, " 270, Vindex. 

Sovereignty of Methodism in the south. 
" " " 248, Address of N. Snethen. 
" 35, " 277, Union Society on D. B. Dorsey's case. 
" 36, " 301, Address. 
« " " 300, Neale. 
" " " 322, Centreville proceedings. 

And also the said pamphlet, entitled " The His- 
tory and IVtystery of Methodist Episcopacy, with 
such other documentary or oral proof as the under- 
signed may deem expedient to exhibit or produce. 
Signed George Earnest, Jacob Rogers, Samuel 
Harden, Isaac N. Toy, Alexander Yearly, Fielder 
Israel and John Berry. 
Baltimore, September 7, 1827. 

Doctor Jennings in the first place made a formal 
protest against the competency of the court which 
Mr. Hanson convened, upon the grounds of its want 
of jurisdiction in the case; that the charges and 
specifications upon which he was arraigned consti- 
tuted a case entirely new ; that, in despite of all 
sophistry, it would be so considered by impartial 
judges. He objected both to the competency and 
the right of the tribunal to try the questions involved 
in the case, and declared that he would "consider 
it an executive usurpation of exposl facto legislative 
authority." But Mr. Hanson made known his de- 
termination to proceed. 

The doctor now protested against the proceed- 
ings upon the grounds of the impossibility of a fair 


and disinterested trial — that sentence was already 
pronounced by the men who were to sit in judgment. 
That his prosecutors had referred almost exclu- 
sively to papers published in the '•Mutual Rights," 
likewise to " The History and Mystery of Meth- 
odist Episcopacy," written by Rev. A. McCaine. 
For proof of the true position of the men who were 
to sit as his judges, he referred to a pamphlet, whose 
manuscript, written by Dr. Bond, and the rest of 
that committee, had the sanction and vote of the 
meeting at the corner of Pitt and Front streets, a 
meeting of the old side brethren, when and where 
these three brethren of the committee acted and 
voted with them as they now admit." That by 
that vote they had virtually condemned and placed 
their seal of disapprobation both upon the " Mutual 
Rights " and the " History and Mystery of Method- 
ist Episcopacy." That, with these evidences before 
him, there was an impossibility of this committee 
being able to give an impartial hearing in the 

But Mr. Hanson decided that that vote which 
they had given did not disqualify them for acting 
on the committee. 

Dr. Jennings then entered his third protest, in 
which he objected to the whole of the proceedings as 
being illegal, and totally at variance with the usages 
and spirit of Methodism, in which he took very 
general grounds. 

But to all human appearances the die had been 
cast, for the chairman overruled all objections ; the 


trial proceeded — the doctor was pronounced guilty 
of the specifications, and suspended from the exer- 
cise of his ministerial functions. 

From an attentive perusal of the specifications 
alleged against Dr. Jennings, there appears to be an 
entire absence of any thing bearing a semblance of 
immorality. If he had become a member of the 
Union Society, he violated no rule of discipline in so 
doing. If he had contributed either Directly or in- 
directly to the support of the " Mutual Rights," he 
violated no rule or obligation. That periodical had 
for its object the welfare of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. If he had advised, recommended or 
requested the publication of " The History and 
Mystery of Methodist Episcopacy," written by Rev. 
A. McCaine, that is a work which exhibits much 
learning, deep research, able arguments ; and sets 
forth truth in so clear and masterly a manner that 
all the arguments and sophistry of the votaries of 
Methodist Episcopacy disappear before it like the 
vapors before the midday sun ; and it is a work which 
any may read to advantage and profit. But this 
third and last specification has been pronounced by 
history to be " notoriously untrue." 

We have presented before the reader the charges 
alleged and the measures adopted by the Rev. Mr. 
Hanson in the trial of Dr. Jennings, inasmuch as 
they are nearly similar or amount to the same as 
those alleged against the other reformers of Balti- 
more who were brought to trial. 

iMr. Hanson proceeded in his work with a zeal 


that might challenge that of Archbishop Laud in the 
" Star Chamber," for in a few days eleven minis- 
ters and twenty-two laymen were expelled from the 
communion of the church. " The Rev. A. McCaine 
was tried separately, in his absence, by a com- 
mittee selected by Mr. Hanson, composed of three 
of the most illiterate local preachers, perhaps, in the 
state of Maryland, and suspended. The preachers 
carried up their cases to the District Conference 
that sat on the 26th December, 1S27, which was 
their proper court of trial. Here they expected to 
have justice done them, as a majority of the confer- 
ence were reformers. But on the morning of the 
second day, after holding a caucus the preceding 
evening, the presiding elder, with a minority of the 
conference and the votes of nine colored men, who 
were not entitled to a vole, dissolved the District 
Conference, and ordered the preachers to appear at 
the Quarterly Conference and stand their trials. 
Indignant at this unexpected act of injustice, the 
preachers determined not to appear before the 
Quarterly Conference, but to appeal to the ap- 
proaching Annual Conference against the arbitrary 
and illegal proceedings of the presiding elder. In 
the meantime the Quarterly Conference expelled 
them all."* 

The following extract from the " Mutual Rights," 
will exhibit a concise view of the course pursued 
by the parties during the " reign of terror." 

*See History of the M. P. Church by Rev. J. R. Williams, 
pp. 192— 93. " 


" The men in power here are going on calling to 
their bar the members of the Union Society, to an- 
swer to the charges and specifications which they 
have contrived to get up. Sometimes two are tried 
in one day ; and we are in a fair way to afford them 
ample employment. Since they began to summon 
us we have admitted more new members than they 
have been able to try. The world can now under- 
stand them ; their determination is, that the only 
condition of fellowship with the Methodist Episcopal 
Church shall be unqualified and silent submission. 
They are determined to put down the Union Socie- 
ties and mutual rights. These institutions have too 
much influence over the people, they talk too much 
about liberty for the power party, who are deter- 
mined, it would seem, to prevent a representation, 
if they lose half of the members. They have re- 
moved all the reforming class-leaders ; and so by 
the expulsion of the members of the Union Society, 
and the retirement of members who will be dis- 
gusted by such doings, there will be great mischief 

The local preachers being notified by the presid- 
ing elder of the Baltimore District, Rev. Mr. Frye, 
of his intention to bring before the Quarterly Con- 
ference of the city station the charges and specifi- 
cations for which they had been suspended, made 
a formal protest against the illegality of such a step 
being taken ; alleging, as the grounds of their pro- 
test, that he had dissolved the District Conference, 
(before which alone their case could have been 



legally considered,) by counting the votes of colored 
men, said to be without precedent in the State of 

A memorial was also sent up, by all who were 
expelled in Baltimore, to the Baltimore Annual 
Conference, which assembled in Carlisle, in April, 
1828. But that conference not only confirmed the 
act of Messrs. Hanson & Co. in the expulsion of the 
memorialists, but likewise expelled the Rev. Dennis 
B. Dorsey and the Rev. Wm. C. Pool, for charges 
of a similar nature. 

The brethren that were thus prosecuted and ex- 
pelled from the M. E. Church in Baltimore, on ac- 
count of their reform principles, were among the 
oldest, most exemplary and faithful supporters of the 
worship and doctrines of that communion. We 
subjoin a list showing the number of years each one 
had been a member of the church. 

John Chappell, 


Rev. Luther J. Cox, 


Rev. D. E. Reese, 


Joseph R. Forman, 


Thomas Jarrett, 


Rev. John S. Reese, 


Rev. Dr. S. K. Jennings, 


Thomas Mummey, 


Samuel Jarrett, 


Rev. Thomas McCormick, 


Rev. James R. Williams.. 


Thomas Patterson, 


" John Valiant, 


John Paul, 


" William Kesley, 


George Northerman, 


Lambert Thomas, 


Samuel Guest, 


William K. Boyle, 


J. H. W. Hawkins, 


Arthur Emerson, 


Samuel Thompson, 


John Kennard, 


Thomas Parsons, 


Samuel Krebs, 


Rev. R. T. Boyd, 


John J. Harrod, 


John P. Howard, 


Rev. John C. French, 


Ebenezer Strahan, 


"Wesley Starr, 


Levi R. Reese, 



It would appear from the preceding schedule 
that neither office, nor station, nor piety, nor zeal, 
nor talents, nor services, nor usefulness, nor age 
could screen a member of the church from expul- 
sion, if he was brought before Mr. Hanson's com- 
mittee for the crime of being a member of the Union 
Society. And it no doubt will astonish the pious 
reader to learn that such events were enacted in 
the M. E. Church, in these United States, as late as 
the year 1827. 




Association of the expelled reformers in Baltimore. — Declaration 
set forth, and withdrawal of ladies in the city. — General Con- 
vention of reformers in Baltimore in 1827. — Schedule of Union 
Societies. — Resolutions of Roanoke Union Society. — Letter of 
Rev. William Compton to that body. — Review of the letter by 
Committee of Correspondence. 

The expelled brethren, in being thus divested of 
church fellowship, united themselves together un- 
der the following instrument of association, in order 
to secure to themselves and friends Christian 
communion : 


Under which the expelled members and ministers in 
Baltimore united, "in order to pray together, to receive 
the word of exhortation, and to watch over one another 
in love, that they might help each other to work out their 

We, the undersigned, formerly members of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, in the city of Balti- 
more, having been excluded from the fellowship of 
that body, by what we believe to be an unjustifiable 
process, based upon insufficient charges, and those 
charges not sustained by competent testimony, 
have, for the present, agreed to unite together as a 
society of original Methodists, under the " General 
Rules of the United Societies," prepared by the 


Rev. John and Charles Wesley. Our object is to 
wait and see whether the present abuses in the 
administration of the government will be cor- 
rected. If they should, and freedom of inquiry and 
public discussion be permitted in the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, it would afford us pleasure to 
return; provided we can do so without relinquishing 
the opinions for which we have been excluded, 
namely, an honest and, as we believe, enlightened 
conviction that the present form of government in 
the Methodist Episcopal Church, so far as it pre- 
cludes the grand principle of representation, and 
confines all legislative, executive and judicial pow- 
ers to the itinerant ministry, is unscriptural and 
anti-Christian; and that reform in the government 
of said church is necessary, in order to its- essential 
and permanent prosperity. With these views, we 
solemnly unite in the name of the Great Head of 
the church, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 
receiving the Holy Scriptures as our guide ; and 
for prudential purposes adopting as an instrument 
of union the " General Rules " of Messrs. John and 
Charles Wesley, with such subsequent regulations 
as our peculiar circumstances may from time to 
time require. 

John Chappell, Ebenezer Strahan, 

John J. Harrod, John H. W. Hawkins, 

Wesley Starr, Thomas Patterson, 

John Kennard, Samuel Krebs, 

William K. Boyle, Thomas Parsons, 
Arthur Emmerson, Thomas Jarrett, 


John Gephart, jr., Joseph K. Forman, 

John P. Howard, George Northerman, 

Levi R. Reese, Samuel Thompson, 

Lambert Thomas, Samuel Guest, 

Samuel Jarrett, John P. Paul. 
Baltimore, December 23, 1827. 

We, the undersigned, elders, deacons and li- 
censed preachers, subscribe our names respectively 
to the foregoing instrument, approving the objects 
contemplated therein. 

Samuel K. Jennings, Luther J. Cox, 
Daniel E. Reese, John S. Reese, 

James R. Williams, John C. French, 

William Kesley, Reuben T. Boyd. 

Thomas McCormick, 
Baltimore, January 26, 1828. 

We now come to record an act which, for mag- 
nanimity of purpose, will justly challenge a paral- 
lel in church history. It is the course pursued and 
the measures adopted by the ladies of Baltimore on 
account of the fatal results attending the ad minis- 
tration of Mr. Hanson, in the expulsion of their 
"husbands, fathers," &c, from the church of their 
choice. The firmness and moderation which they 
evinced, and the zeal and devotedness which they 
exhibited under the circumstances, are above all 

Baltimore, December 31, 1827. 

At a meeting of female members of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, convened at the Rev. Dr. Jen- 
nings's, for the purpose of taking into consideration 


the most advisable course to be pursued by the 
wives and friends of those members of said church 
who have been expelled, and of those ministers who 
are suspended by the official members of the Balti- 
more Station, for the sake of reform ; the meet- 
ing was opened with prayer ; and, on motion, 
Mrs. Rebecca Hall was called to the chair, and 
Mrs. Wesley Woods was appointed secretary. 

On motion, resolved, that the members of this 
meeting deeply regret the necessity of withdrawing 
from the Methodist Episcopal Church ; yet, from a 
conviction of duty, we do hereby resolve to with- 
draw from said church, when our husbands, fathers 
or friends shall have been expelled. 

On motion, resolved, that a committee of nine be 
appointed to consider and report on the most ad- 
visable measures to be adopted by those females 
who have determined to withdraw from the church. 
The following were appointed said committee, viz : 
Mrs. Mummey, Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Harrod, Mrs. 
Woods, Mrs. French, Mrs. Kennard, Mrs. Reese, 
Miss L. Martin and Mrs. Owens. ! 

The meeting then adjourned to give the commit- 
tee time to prepare and report such measures as 
they may deem most advisable. 

Rebecca Hall, President. 

Mary Ann Woods, Secretary. 

Monday, January 7, 1828. 
The meeting convened for the purpose of hearing 
the report of the committee. The following report 
was read and unanimously adopted : 



The committee appointed to inquire into the best 
n.easures to be adopted by the female friends of 
reform in the government of the M. E. Church 
in this city, to secure their present peace and union, 
aid their future happiness, have had the subject 
uider serious and deliberate consideration, and 
b<g leave to report that, inasmuch as it was unani- 
mously resolved at our meeting on the 31st Decem- 
ber, that on the expulsion of our husbands, fathers, 
&-., we would feel it our duty to withdraw from 
tie church and unite with our expelled friends, it 
i: expedient, in the opinion of your committee, that 
the wives, daughters, &c, of our friends and breth- 
ren already expelled withdraw from the church ; 
and that all who determine on this course should 
address a joint letter to Mr. Hanson, stating their 
determination to withdraw, and assign their reasons 
fori so doing; and also requesting of him a certifi- 
cate of their acceptable membership. 

And your committee further beg leave to submit 
the following as the form of a suitable instrument to 
be adopted and subscribed by the females who may 
withdraw from the church : 


The subscribers, members of the methodist Epis- 
copal Church in the city of Baltimore, believing 
that the form of government in said church is, in 
some of its features, contrary to the Holy Scrip- 
tures ; and that it deprives a large proportion of the 


ministers and members of said church of their 
natural and Christian rights ; and believing t'lat 
the ruling authorities in this city have grealy 
abused the power they hold, to the injury of relig'nn, 
in that they have suspended eleven local preachers, 
by what we consider improper measures, for aidng 
the cause of reform, and have expelled twenty-t.vo 
lay members for the same cause, and have treaed 
others hardly whom they have not expelled, End 
have for the same cause deprived most of our br- 
mer class-leaders of their official standing; which 
preachers, members and leaders are our compan- 
ions, fathers, children, or highly esteemed brethrei, 
in whom we have the fullest Christian confidence; 
and by these means they have created a state of 
things calculated to destroy Christian union anc 
Christian confidence. Therefore, for these and 
other considerations, we have determined and 
hereby do agree to dissolve for the present our con- 
nection with the Methodist Episcopal Church, by 
withdrawing therefrom ; and that we will address 
a joint letter to Rev. J. M. Hanson, expressive of our 
determination to this effect, and request of him a 
certificate of our acceptable standing in the church. 
And we do hereby declare that we have been im- 
pelled to this measure only by existing difficulties 
in the church ; and that so soon as those difficulties 
shall be removed, and our expelled and injured 
friends shall be restored to the enjoyment of their 
former standing and privileges, on proper and Chris- 
tian principles, it will be our delight to return to 


the church, from which we now reluctantly retire. 
We farther agree that until the way of our return 
shall become practicable, or the opening of Provi- 
dence shall mark out to us some other way, we 
will unite in Christian communion and religious 
worship with each other, and with our brethren and 
sisters who have been or may be persecuted from 
the church for reform principles. 

And finally we hereby declare that we have not 
been influenced to adopt this measure by the per- 
suasion or other means of our husbands, relatives or 
friends, but from a deliberate and settled conviction 
of duty to our God, ourselves, and our injured 
friends and brethren. We therefore hereby sol- 
emnly unite ourselves together for the reasons and 
for the purposes before named, with a firm reliance 
on the support and assistance of Almightj'' God in 
this important duty and engagement. 

The committee further beg leave to offer the fol- 
lowing as a suitable form of a letter, to be sent to 
the preacher in charge of this station, by those 
females who may determine to withdraw from the 

The letter, after receiving the signatures append- 
ed, was presented to Mr. Hanson on the Saturday 
preceding the lovefeast. 

Rev. James M. Hanson: 

We, the subscribers, female members of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, in the city of Balti- 


more, feel ourselves under the necessity of address- 
ing you on a subject peculiarly painful. For a series 
of years we have been endeavoring, in our humble 
sphere, to serve God and make our way to heaven. 
And long since the Methodist Episcopal Church 
became the home of our choice, where we had 
fondly hoped to dwell in the peaceful enjoyment of 
the means of grace and the ordinances of Christiani- 
ty, to the end of life. In this church our dearest 
Christian associations and religious friendships were 
formed, and flourished. Our hopes, our fears, our 
wishes, all were identified with the church of our 
choice. Around all her ordinances, her services, 
her ministers, our best affections were entwined; and 
for her peace and prosperity our daily prayers were 
offered to a throne of grace. This preference was 
not given to the Methodist Episcopal Church be- 
cause we considered her government more perfect 
than that of others; for, indeed, we were no more 
careful to inquire into that subject than our preachers 
were to give us instruction concerning it; but our 
preference grew out of the purity of her doctrines, 
the piety of her members, the excellence of her 
moral discipline, and her itinerant plan. And 
though recent events have led us to examine, more 
closely than heretofore, the Methodist Discipline, 
and this examination has resulted in a conviction of 
its defectiveness, in many particulars, yet we could 
have borne those comparatively trivial inconve- 
niences, and could have lived happily in the bosom 
of the church all our da3 r s, nor had we thought of 


forsaking her communion until death, but for recent 
occurrences which have taken place under your 
administration and superintendence. But, sir, to 
see a large number of our highly esteemed local 
preachers excluded from the pulpits, arraigned, con- 
demned and excommunicated, and the seal of official 
silence set upon the lips which have so often con- 
veyed heavenly consolation to our minds and hearts ; 
to see our beloved class-leaders torn from us, and 
deprived of their official standing, and a large 
number of our lay-brethren expelled without a 
crime ; and to see the unwarrantable measures by 
which these distressing results have been effected, 
is too painful for us! In short, to find our dear 
companions, fathers, brothers, children and friends 
treated as criminals and enemies, prosecuted, sus- 
pended and expelled ; denounced as backsliders 
and disturbers of the peace ; and to be ourselves 
treated coldly and distantly by our former friends, 
and by our pastors; and all for a mere difference 
of opinion about church government, is more than 
we feel bound in Christian charity longer to endure ; 
and we, therefore, feel it our duty, in the fear of 
God, though with emotions of poignant sorrow, and 
with aching hearts, to withdraw from the church 
of our choice and fondest attachments. To this 
painful resort we are driven by the measures you 
have taken against our friends and brethren. To 
remain in the church under the circumstances now 
existing, would be to evince a want of filial, connu- 
bial, and fraternal attachment to our persecuted 
friends, and a want of self-respect. 



We therefore request you to consider us as with- 
drawn from the Methodist Episcopal Church, and 
to furnish us a joint or individual certificate of our 
acceptable standing, as soon as convenient. 

Hannah L. Harrod, 
Catharine Mummey, 
Guinilda Mummey, 
Mary Kemiard, 
Sarah Krebs, 
Jane Thomas, 
Elizabeth Williams, 
Sarah Williams, 
Elizabeth Taylor, 
Mary Williams, 
Frances Williams, 
Catharine Williams, 
Hannah Jennings, 
Mary O wings, 
Elizabeth Crouch, 
Elinor Gephart, 
Maria Paul, 
Elizabeth Forman, 
Phillippa Starr, 
Rachel Hawkins, 
Elizabeth Baxley, 
Susan Guest, 
Sarah Emmerson, 
Elizabeth Valiant, 

Isabella Northerman, 
Elizabeth Kennard, 
Anna Jarrett, 
Ruth Reese, 
Rebecca Reese, 
Margaret Reese, 
Mary Reese, 
Margaret Patterson, 
Mary French, 
Sidney Boyd, 
Rebecca Jane Roberts, 
Lucy Fore, 
Mary Jane Thomas, 
Jemima Jones, 
Hannah Martin, 
Letitia M. Martin, 
Maria M. Martin, 
Maria Cox, 
Mary Meads, 
Mary Ann Woods, 
Catharine Wallace, 
Elizabeth Brit, 
Mary Ann Valiant. 

Who can read unmoved the account of the pro- 
ceedings of these excellent Christian ladies, and the 


course they pursued when their "companions, 
fathers, brothers, children and friends," were prose- 
cuted, suspended and expelled from the church ? 
Sensible of the deep injustice done to those whom 
they held most dear, they prudently took the praise- 
worthy resolution to follow their exiled friends into 
their " Patmos." How excellent are the sentiments 
set forth in their declaration ! The lovers of justice 
and truth may here read, pause and admire! 

According to the best information afforded us, 
the expelled laymen associated themselves together 
on the 23d December, 1827. The ministers united 
with them January 26th, 1828, and the ladies 
who had withdrawn joined the association a few 
days afterwards. 

This was no doubt, according to the best accounts 
the first society formed of those known, for the space 
of about two years, by the name of the Associated 
Methodist Societies; which, upon the adoption of 
the Constitution, took the name of the Methodist 
Protestant Church. 

The association thus formed, "elected the 
preachers and ministers to serve in the same rela- 
tions and offices they respectively held prior to their 
expulsion, and the instrument declaring this fact 
was recorded in the clerk's office, Baltimore. This 
act was deemed necessary to guard against the 
effects of representations made to the community 
by the old side men, that being deprived of mem- 
bership, their parchments became null and void, 



and consequently their ministerial acts would be 

The high-handed and tyrannical measures of 
Mr. Hanson and his committee, which they adopted 
to effect the expulsion of the reformers, created 
quite a deep sensation throughout the Methodist 
community in the United States. Union societies 
and churches, upon the receipt of the startling intel- 
ligence, held meetings and passed resolutions of 
abhorrence and condemnation of the administration 
of Rev. James M. Hanson, and of sympathy for 
the persecuted reformers. The communications 
sent to the Baltimore Union Society from north, 
south, east and west, were respectful in their 
tenor; and coming as they did from highly respect- 
able and influential bodies of Christians, they could 
not fail to strengthen the hearts and hands of the 
exiled reformers. These numerous addresses of 
the Union Societies may be found in the fourth vol- 
ume of the Mutual Rights for 1827-8. 

In November, 1827, a general convention of re- 
formers met in the city of Baltimore, composed of 
ministerial and lay delegates from the states of Ohio, 
Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, North 
Carolina and the District of Columbia. One hun- 
dred delegates had been appointed to attend this 
convention, but owing to the circumstances that 
generally militate against the assemblage of such a 
body, but fifty-seven were in attendance. This 

* Williams's History of the M. P. Church, p. 210. 



body adopted a "memorial to the General Confer- 
ence," praying for a joint representation from the 
local ministry and membership, and prepared an 
address to the Methodist public, both of which 
were published for the information of the com- 

Up to this period, about twenty-four Union So- 
cieties had been formed, according to the best 
information extant upon the subject. The following 
statement may afford some idea of the date of their 
organization, as well as of their locality : 

Baltimore Union Society, formed May 21st, 1824 

Roanoke, N. C, Auxiliary to Baltimore U. S., Nov. 6, 1824 

Bedford county, Tennessee, Auxiliary, 

. 1825 

Cincinnati, Ohio, 



N. York, Western U. Society, 


. 1826 

Miami U. Society, 



Granville, North Carolina, 


. 1826 

Liberty Town, Maryland, 



Fell's Point, Baltimore, 


. 1827 

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, 



Centreville, Maryland, 


. 1827 

Steubenville, Ohio, 



Chesterlown, Maryland, 


. 1827 

New Market, Maryland, 



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 


. 1827 

Somerset, Maryland, 



Newtown, Maryland, 


. 1827 

Lancaster, Virginia, 



Centreville, Indiana, 


. 1827 

New Orleans, Louisiana, 



Louisville, Kentucky, 


. 1827 

Burlington, Vermont, 



Greenfield, Ohio, 


. 1827 

Greenville, Alabama, 





The reader will observe, from the preceding 
schedule, that Union Societies had been formed in 
twelve different states. In those societies were to 
be found some of the most distinguished ministers 
of the M. E. Church, in point of piety, talent and 
influence. But no character was too fair, at this 
stage of the history of reform, to be attacked and 
aspersed by the votaries of the Methodist Episcopal 
hierarchy. Even the much-honored Dr. H. B. 
Bascom, the present champion or defender of the 
M. E. Church, South, was denounced by Rev. Mr. 
Hanson and his co-laborers, the prosecuting com- 
mittee, as "a reckless assailant that transcends all 
decency of invective." To be in favor of reform, 
or of "mutual rights," was regarded by the advo- 
cates of the old order of things as an offence 
calling for expulsion from the church. 


We now turn our attention to the state of affairs 
in North Carolina. The Roanoke Union Society 
had continued to swell its numbers, and disseminate 
its circulars and publications throughout the state, 
in order to enlist the minds and feelings of the 
Methodist community in the cause of a republican 
church polity. The measures adopted by this 
society in the dissemination of the doctrine of 
mutual rights, did not fail to bring it into notice 
with those in authority in the M. E. Church. 

Accordingly, early in the year 1S2S, the Virginia 
Annual Conference sent to the Roantfke Circuit, as 



preacher in charge, the Rev. William Compton, 
who had figured so conspicuously in the trials and 
expulsions of the members of the Granville Union 
Society; and whose, principles and character as an 
anti-reformer were well known in Roanoke. 

From the well known reputation of Rev. Mr. 
Compton, the Roanoke Union Society had just 
grounds of fear upon learning that he had been ap- 
pointed by the Annual Conference to be their 
superintendent. The appointment was an unfor- 
tunate one. The minds of the Roanoke brethren 
were not prepared to receive him. His previous 
course towards the venerable Lewellyn Jones and 
others on Tar River Circuit, had rendered him ob- 
noxious to their feelings, and they naturally con- 
cluded that he had been selected in view of their 
position as reformers, and hence they were to 
become the victims of his unsparing zeal. They 
were no strangers to his sentiments respecting the 
reformers. They expected, as a matter of course, 
that as he had done nnto other reforms, he would 
do even so unto them. Hence they were not 
prepared to receive him with that warmth of feeling 
and confidence of good-will which is so character- 
istic of Methodists. 

Soon after the appointment of the Rev. William 
Compton to the Roanoke Circuit was known, a 
called meeting of the Roanoke Union Society was 
held. The meeting of the socieiy was on the 4th 
of April, 1828. The circumstances under which 
they were n©w placed were entirely new. The 


melancholy tidings of the expulsion of their brethren 
in Baltimore had reached them ; and from the 
fact that one of the most prominent actors in the 
expulsion of seven members of the Granville Union 
Society, had been sent to watch over them, as 
preacher in charge, they naturally concluded that 
a storm-cloud was Qatherino; to burst over their own 
heads. But they stood firm. Trusting in the jus- 
tice of their cause and the rectitude of their princi- 
ples, they were willing to brave the event. They 
had no compromise to make — no principles to sell. 
The path of duty led onward. 

The business of the society, on the first day, was 
principally of a local nature. On the next day, 
April 5th, the following resolutions were offered 
by Rev. William Bellamy and adopted by the 
society, being such as fairly defined their position 
and principles in view of all the circumstances. 

" 1. That as the sense of this meeting the conduct 
of our brethren in the city of Baltimore, and else- 
where, who have been expelled from the church on 
account of their attachment to the principles of re- 
ligious and ecclesiastical liberty, as contended for by 
the reformers in the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
is justly entitled to our approbation as fellow advo- 
cates for truth, and our strongest Christian S3 r mpa- 
thies as a religious community. 

"2. That as the sense of this meeting, our sisters 
in the city of Baltimore, who have recently escaped 
from the church in consequence of the 'abomina- 
tion which maketh desolate, standing where it 


ought not,' are also entitled to our friendly sympa- 
thies and Christian salutations." 

The above resolutions were ordered to be for- 
warded to the editorial committee of the Mutual 
Rights, at Baltimore, to be disposed of as they 
should think proper. 

The following resolutions, next in order, were 
offered by brother L. Whitaker. 

"1. That the expulsion of Lewellyn Jones and 
others, in the Tar River Circuit, during the year 
1326, for joining the Union Society there; and more 
particularly the part borne in that unfortunate trans- 
action, by the Rev. Wm. Compton, now appointed 
to this circuit as a minister, meets with the decided 
disapprobation of this society. 

"2. That individually we apprehend a similar 
course is intended to be pursued towards us : it 
being a sound maxim that what has been done, in 
all probability will be repeated. 

"3. Therefore, that before we can receive as a 
messenger of peace the said William Compton, we 
must be assured that he will endeavor to repair the 
wrong he has committed, by using his best efforts to 
restore to t A he Methodist Episcopal Church the said 
Lewellyn Jones and others that were expelled for 
the same cause. 

"4. That the corresponding committee furnish 
the Rev. William Compton with a copy of these 
resolutions, requesting his answer thereto." 

These resolutions, as appears from the journal, 
were all adopted unanimously. They are couched 


in no ambiguous language, but express in decided 
terms the undivided sentiments of the Roanoke 
Union Society. 

The Rev. William Compton was furnished in due 
time with a copy by the committee of correspond- 
ence, to which he returned the following reply: 

To the members of the Roanoke Union Society. 

Dear Brethren, — From the friendly and re- 
spectful treatment I received from the reformers, on 
my first round on the circuit, I had flattered myself 
that, however we might differ in our sentiments 
on church government, nothing unpleasant would 
occur between you and me through the year. But 
from a communication received from you, 1 am ap- 
prehensive that I shall be disappointed; for be ye 
well assured that I am not conscious of having done 
wrong in the part that I acted in Quarterly Confer- 
ence, in reference to Lewellyn Jones and others. 
As to the reformers in this circuit, I had indulged a 
hope that they would not interfere with me or my 
concerns,* but were willing that I should think for 

* From this passage it is very plain that the author wishes it to 
be inferred that he is the ag«rieved party in this affair, and is en- 
deavoring to turn the scales and make himself a persecuted being, 
to whom the right of private judgment is denied ; and he writes 
willi as much assurance as if the fact were so. In the name of 
goodness, who would suppose, from perusing the passage referred to., 
that W. Compton had ever in his life censured (much more punished, 
and that severely too,) a brother for the same thing he affects to 
plead for? Who could suppose that, with so much charity on his 
lips, he had ever raised his hand against an inoffensive man? Yet 


myself, and that they would cast their influence 
with mine into the common scale of truth, and do 
what they could to help forward the interest of the 
Redeemer's kingdom. While I had concluded 
within myself that, if they continued to conduct 
themselves as they had done since I came into the 
circuit, so far as I had knowledge of their proceed- 
ings, that I should leave them as my predecessor 
had done before me. You seem resolved not to 
receive me as a "messenger of peace," unless I 
give the assurance you have demanded. This I 
shall not do; and of course I am rejected. But I 
should like to know by whom; not in the aggregate, 
but by name; for I cannot consistently darken the 
door or eat the bread of any man into whose house 
I am not received as a "messenger of peace:" and 
if it be by a majority of the representative depart- 
ment of any class that I am thus rejected, I should 
take it as an instance of candor and honesty to be 
advertised of the fact, that I may shape my course 
accordingly. I have no hesitation in saying that I 

it is so. This identical W. Compton, (unless we believe the 
eastern tale of the dervise killing the king and leaving his own 
body and taking up his abode in that of his majesty, and that this 
is only W. Compton in appearance, and the soul in the body is 
quite another existence,) within less than two years, in one day's 
journey of Bradford's church, had exerted all his influence, and 
boasted the accomplishment of his object, not only to censure but to 
punish Jones and others for attempting practically to exercise the 
very principle he so affectedly rants about. Such is the fact. 
Surely this is "something new." 

A Member of the Roanoke U. Society. 


am on the old side, where I mean to continue, un- 
less my mind should very materially change, or the 
majority should say that there shall be a change in 
the government of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
Nor have I any idea that any of the reforming 
brethren in this circuit will change their ground, for 
the same reason that I shall not change mine. 

Wherefore, then, permit me to ask, is the neces- 
sity of our agitating this subject, when we know 
that both the one and the other are fixed in their 
purpose ? Have we time hanging so heavily on our 
hands, that we must necessarily pass it off in a way 
which is often the means of harrowing up the feel- 
ings of brethren? Would we not act more wisely 
to "agree to disagree," and let this subject be more 
still in our frequent conversations with each other? 
Surely, my brethren, we must admit that there has 
been too much asperity on both sides already, and 
that it is high time for us to deplore the languishing- 
state of Zion in this circuit. Time is flying with 
the rapidity of light, and souls more precious a 
thousand fold than the gold of Ophir, are peopling 
the eternal world by myriads. And should we not 
then, instead of catching at shadows, nerve the 
strong arm of faith and take of the things of God 
and eternity, and show them to a dying world? 
Let this be the burden of our concern and the ob- 
ject of our contention, and then may we hope to see 
the waste places of our beloved Zion restored. 

And, finally, let it be for the man of sin, but not 
for the man of God, (and more especially the minis- 


ter of Jesus Christ,) to say that the man who does 
not see exactly as he sees, is not a "messenger of 
peace." Reject me if you think proper, brethren, 
and with me the gospel of Christ; but take care 
that in so doing you do not "reject the counsel of 
God against yourselves." With these remarks, 
I conclude by taking the liberty of subscribing 
myself, dear brethren, yours in the kingdom and 
patience of Jesus. 

William Compton. 
May 5th, 1828. 

On the 6th of June following the Roanoke Union 
Society met at Bradford's Chapel, and the letter of 
Rev. Mr. Compton was read before that bocty. The 
committee of correspondence made a report upon 
said letter, in the form of a review of its contents, 
which was adopted and published, together with the 
letter, in one of the political papers of the day. 
The following is the 


Your committee think they will not be deemed 
by this society, to take any thing on themselves but 
what as a committee of correspondence they ought 
to do, if they endeavor to exhibit to the society, its 
situation as a society in regard to the perils of its 
members, and to justify the course of the society in 
the adoption of the resolutions aforesaid ; in doing 
which, it becomes proper to examine the circum- 
stances under which they were adopted. 


Recent information from Baltimore, giving details 
of occurrences there, in which the Rev. Mr. Hanson 
acted so notable a part, had placed the matter 
beyond the reach of reasonable doubt, that it had 
become the decided determination of the rulers in 
our church to expel from its membership all such 
as had the hardihood, in their estimation, to question 
their justice or their infallibility. It was, in other 
words, declared an offence, and for its commission 
the party was expelled, if in the exercise of a right 
guaranteed to us by all our fundamental laws, any 
member should declare in his opinion a minister of 
the gospel had committed wrong — an offence of so 
trivial a nature as not to be finable if committed 
towards the highest officer recognized by these 
United States. It is also a fact beyond the reach of 
self-denial, that one Lewellyn Jones, in Tar River 
Circuit, had been lately expelled for becoming a 
member of a Union Society. It was also a fact 
equally notorious, that in the transaction the Rev. 
William Compton had taken a decisive and active 
part in behalf of irresponsible power. 

When this society was informed that the said 
Rev. Win. Compton was appointed to take charge 
of this circuit, it could but occur to the society so 
apparently that it was impossible but it should no- 
tice it, that its own membership stood on a founda- 
tion somewhat precarious, with a minister who had 
avowed his determination not to be neutral; who had 
compared reformers to "thieves and tories;" who 
charged them with designs to overturn whatever he 


considered lovely or venerable in our church; who 
had boldly and with complacency declared that the 
reformers might be expelled, though they were 
guilty of no immoral act ; who had avowed it to be 
both "just and generous" to ransack the conversa- 
tions of men at great distances, and fix whatever 
was exceptionable in them on the accused person, 
however innocent he might be of their thoughts or 
ignorant of their expressions ; it is conceived by 
your committee thai the society was urged both by 
a sense of sympathy to the injured and safety to 
itself, to adopt the resolutions. 

The society feeling, as it ought to have done, the 
weight of its responsibility, was bound by every 
consideration that ought to influence it, to ascertain 
in direct terms whether its fears were reasonable 
or groundless ; thinking, if they were the latter, no 
candid, no religious man could or would for one 
moment refuse to make reparation for an injury 
committed by him ; if the former, how is it possible 
that it could receive, as a brother, as a minister, as 
a " messenger of peace," the man who of all others 
had made himself so conspicuous in committing 
havoc among its brethren ? It is not in nature to 
do so. 

Your committee are of opinion that the apprehen- 
sions of the society were reasonable, and that the 
answer of the said Rev. Wm. Compton to the reso- 
lutions of this society has reduced it to a certainty 
that they were so. The letter declares that the 
writer had come to the conclusion to leave the 


reformers here as he found them ; but at the same 
time he gives us to understand that he had done 
so from the very friendly treatment he had received 
from them ; and even this small boon is taxed with 
their demeaning themselves in the same wa} r , as 
far as his knowledge of their conduct extended, 
lour committee, while they express the satisfaction 
of knowing that the very friendly conduct of the 
reformers had disarmed a belligerant, are at the 
same time of opinion that the difficulty of obtaining 
a court to answer his purpose, in the manner pre- 
scribed in the book of Discipline, might very possi- 
bly have been an inducement in the formation of 
the said determination. The answer to your reso- 
lution further declares, and that too in a manner 
that we cannot hesitate to believe the truth of the 
declaration, that as respects the conduct of the Rev. 
Mr. Compton in the affair of Lewellyn Jones, he 
feels no degree of compunction. Your committee, 
therefore, cannot hesitate to think that in regard to each 
one of your society, his abilities would be exerted and his 
power lent to place us where the said Lewellyn Jones 
'is — out of the pale of the church.* 

But our brother Compton affects to believe that 
your resolutions are predicated on the circumstance 
of his being ^^-reformation ; that his belief is but 
affectation becomes apparent from the fact that it 
must be known to him that no such resolution was 
adopted in regard to the Rev. Mr. Carson, the Rev. 
Mr. Bain, the Rev. Mr. Doub, or the Rev. Mr. 

*How soon was this all realized! — Author. 


Hooks, all known to be in principle against reform ; 
and from the fact that the resolutions themselves do 
not even so much as imply such a construction. 

The resolutions say, in the first place, that the 
society disapproves the expulsion of Lewellyn 
Jones, and that disapprobation is founded on the 
circumstance of Lewellyn Jones being a reformer, 
and being expelled therefor. In the second place, 
the society disapproves the part taken in regard to 
Jones by the Rev. William Compton. In the third 
place, the Rev. Mr. Compton being appointed to 
take charge of this circuit, the society says it is 
apprehensive a similar course is intended to be 
pursued in regard to each member; and in conse- 
quence of all these circumstances united, it resolves 
that before it can receive as a " messenger of peace 
the said Rev. Wm. Compton, it must be assured 
that he will repair the wrong he has committed, by 
using his best efforts to restore to the church the 
said Lewellyn Jones." Your committee beg leave 
to call the attention of the society to the fact that the 
Rev. Mr. Compton takes no notice whatever, in his 
very mild and friendly letter, of the second resolu- 
tion, the one most interesting to this society. Our 
brother seems to reproach us with a waste of time, 
and that too in a manner calculated to harrow the 
feelings of brethren. In one respect your resolu- 
tions were a waste of time, since on him they seem 
to be of no effect. From the tenor of his letter, 
your just fears seem to be regarded in the same 
light as a crowned head would the remonstrances 


of his subjects, when he was determined to dis- 
regard them. 

The world is not centred, however, in one man. 
Your committee are of opinion that the cause for 
which this society is contending, and in furtherance 
of which the resolutions were passed, (it seems to 
them, at least, to be of that importance,) that a few 
days, or weeks, or years, may be very profitably 
devoted to it, without deserving the reproach of a 
waste of time. Since, however, it is almost crimi- 
nal in the view of the Rev. William Compton to 
harrow the feelings of a brother, and in this your 
committee can very readily join, it would be well 
to inquire if none have feelings but the a?ities. Had 
Jones no feelings when, dragged before an unre- 
lenting tribunal, he heard his name associated with 
tories, and at the same time saw himself thrown 
from the membership of the church, and that too for 
an act declared by his judges to constitute nothing 
immoral ? Had Harris no sensibility when charged 
by this self-same man* with turning others from 
the simplicity of the gospel? It were useless to 
follow this subject further — the adage is exemplified, 
that "we are guilty of what we blame in others." 

Our brother's letter has one remarkable passage, 
the import of which your committee hope he did not 
intend; the passage is this: "Reject me if you 
think proper, and with me the gospel of Christ." 
Your committee, in regard to this part of the letter 
of the said Rev. Win. Compton, are persuaded that 

* See Rev. W. Compton's letter to Ivey Harris. 



no reasonable man can for one moment suppose 
that the rejection of any one man amounts to the 
rejection of the gospel of our Saviour ; if it did, 
we apprehend that few would be in the pale of that 
gospel. Your committee, without commenting on 
the vanity and self-sufficiency of the man in arro- 
gating to himself so eminent a distinction, will barely 
remark, that if the rejection by this society of the 
Rev. Wm. Compton, as a "messenger of peace" to 
it, places its members in the awful situation of re- 
jecting the counsel of God against themselves, what 
is the situation of the man who uses his mission as 
a means to oppress and to deprive of communion 
with his Maker a soul that has been purchased by 
the blood of the Saviour ? 

Your committee are forced to believe, on a review 
of the whole matter, that though possibly to some 
the mission of our brother Compton may be one of 
peace, yet to this society it evidently carries with it and 
sends before it the emblems of war. 

Something is said, in the reply to your resolu- 
tions, about the representative departments of the 
different societies. Your committee (to this part of 
it) are at a loss to understand the object of the 
writer. He boldly avows himself to be on that 
side of this controversy which denies the semblance 
of representation from the membership of the 
church. Your committee, therefore, are of opinion 
that this society should take no steps to inform the 
said Rev. Wm. Compton of the names of those who 
voted in the affirmative or negative on the passage 
of the resolutions referred to. 


B} 7 " your resolutions your course is now decided ; 
from the answer of the Rev. Mr. Compton, his 
seems to be equally as much so. Your committee, 
therefore, recommend the adoption of the' following 
resolutions : 

1. That this society deem it inexpedient to make 
any reply to the letter of the Rev. Mr. Compton. 

2. That this society is engaged in a contest in- 
volving interests to its members of a class the most 

3. That its members will make cause with each 
other, and will stand by each other in every 

4. By the members of this society individually, 
that they make no disclosures, no concessions, and 
no apologies of what nor for what has been done in 
this society, for the sake of peace or advantage to 
themselves, and of throwing blame on others, other- 
wise than may be ordered by the society itself. 

All of which is respectfully submitted. 




Resolutions of the General Conference of 1S28. — Notification of 
Rev. Mr. Compton to the ministers of the Roanoke Union So- 
ciety. — Examination of the grounds assumed by Mr. Compton. — 
Trials of the local ministers at Horeb. — Expulsions of the 
same. — Expulsions on Albemarle, in the eastern part of North 

From what has been related in the preceding 
chapter, we have seen that the position of the Rev. 
Mr. Compton, in regard to the Roanoke Union 
Society, was one that augured not much of good. 

But even that was destined to be soon changed 
for one that promised still less. In May (a few 
weeks preceding his communication to the Union 
Society) the General Conference met at Pittsburg. 
The brethren who had been expelled at Baltimore 
sent up a memorial to that body, setting forth the 
irregular and improper proceedings which had been 
had against them, and by which they had been ex- 
pelled from the church, and respectfully petitioned 
that body to take such measures as, in their wisdom, 
should restore them to the church of their former 
fellowship, and that "those likewise who had with- 
drawn on their account might be received with 
them on principles which should secure to them 
and the church the liberty of speech and of the 
press, without sanctioning the licentiousness of 
either." The General Conference adopted resolu- 


tions, laying clown certain principles or conditions 
upon which the expelled and withdrawn might 
again become united with the church. But these 
conditions were such as the expelled could not con- 
scientiously accede to. Contending as they had 
been for principles and rights, they saw in these 
resolutions not even the semblance of a bait to allure. 
Although they advised that no further proceedings 
be had against the reformers for any past agency or 
connection with Union Societies or the "Mutual 
Rights," yet the Rev. Mr. Compton affected to seize 
upon these very resolutions as affording him new, 
special and enlarged authority to proceed upon a 
vigorous campaign against the members of the 
Roanoke Union Society. In order that the reader 
may fully understand the flimsy pretensions of this 
reverend gentleman, we shall here bring forward 
the resolutions of the General Conference. 



Whereas an unhappy excitement has existed in 
some parts of our work, in consequence of the or- 
ganization of what have been called Union Societies, 
for purposes and under regulations believed to be 
inconsistent with the peace and harmony of the 
church; and in relation to the character of much of 
the matter contained in a certain periodical publica- 
tion called "Mutual Rights," in regard to which 
certain expulsions from the church have taken 


place; and whereas this General Conference in- 
dulge a hope that a mutual desire may exist for 
conciliation and peace, and is desirous of leaving 
open a way for the accomplishment of so desirable 
an object, on safe and equitable principles : there- 
fore, resolved, by the delegates of the Annual 
Conferences, in General Conference assembled, 
1. That in view of the premises, and in the earnest 
hope that this measure may tend to promote; this 
object, this General Conference affectionately ad- 
vises that no further proceedings may be had in any 
part of our work against any member or minister 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, on account of 
any past agency or concern in relation to the above 
named periodical, or in relation to any Union 
Society above mentioned. 

2. If any persons expelled as aforesaid feel free 
to concede that publications have appeared in said 
(i Mutual Rights," the nature and character of which 
were unjustifiably inflammatory, and do not admit 
of vindication; and that in others, though for want 
of proper information or unintentionally, have yet 
in fact misrepresented individuals and facts, and 
that they regret these things ; if it be voluntarily 
agreed also that the Union Societies above alluded 
to shall be abolished, and the periodical called the 
"Mutual Rights" be discontinued at the close of 
the current volume, which shall be completed with 
due respect to the conciliatory and pacific design 
of this arrangement, then this General Conference 
does hereby give authority for the restoration to their 


ministry or membership respectively, in the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church, of any person or persons %o 
expelled as aforesaid ; provided this arrangement 
shall be mutually assented to by'any individual or 
individuals so expelled, and also by the Quarterly 
Meeting Conference, and the minister or preacher 
having the charge of any circuit or station within 
which any such expulsion may have* taken place; 
and that no such minister or preacher shall be 
obliged, under this arrangement, to restore an}- such 
individual as leader of any class or classes, unless 
in his own discretion he shall judge it proper so to 
do ; and provided, also, that it be further mutually 
agreed that no other periodical publication, to be 
devoted to the same controversy, shall be estab- 
lished on either side, it being expressly understood, 
at the same time, that this, if agreed to, will be on 
the ground not of any assumption of right to require 
this, but of mutual consent, for the restoration of 
peace, and that no individual will be hereby pre- 
cluded from issuing any publication which he may 
judge proper, on his own responsibility. 

It is further understood that any individual or in- 
dividuals who may have withdrawn from the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church, on account of any proceed- 
ings in relation to the premises, may also be restored 
by mutual consent, under this arrangement, on the 
same principles above stated. 

The preceding resolutions of the General Confer- 
ence were published in the " Christian Advocate 


and Journal," soon after the rise of the conference ; 
and under pretext of authority from these, the Rev. 
Mr. Compton shortly afterwards commenced his 
crusade against the Roanoke Union Society. From 
his proceedings on record, it appears that he chose 
to begin with the ministers. Accordingly he sent 
to each one of them belon^in^ to Roanoke Circuit 

o CD 

the following notification. The following is a copy 
of the one sent to Rev. William Bellamy. The 
original is before me. 

August 14, 1828. 
Mr. Bellamy: 

Sir, — The General Conference of May last resolved 
that on certain conditions those reformers who have 
been expelled the church should be restored to their 
former standing. Which implies that if these con- 
ditions are not complied with, they shall not be 
restored. The plain inference is, that those who 
have not been expelled, and who are guilty of the 
same things, must either comply with these condi- 
tions or expect to share the same fate. Since there- 
fore the 4th volume of the "Mutual Rights" is now 
completed, I take the liberty of informing you that 
I conceive that the General Conference has made it 
my duty to request you to dissolve the "Union So- 
ciety " of which you are a member, so far as you are 
concerned, and to cease to patronize the "Mutual 
Rights." Also } r ou are hereby notified that, if you 
will not comply with these conditions, you may 
prepare for trial before a committee ; and also for 
having " inveighed against the government of the 



church/' and for expressions that you have in- 
dulged. The time of the trial you will be informed 
of hereafter. Respectfully yours, 

Wm. Compton. 

From the tenor of this notification or circular of 
the Rev. Mr. Compton to the local ministers belong- 
ing to the Union Society, it must be evident that he 
wished to place them without the pale of the church. 
He heeded not the published resolutions of the Gen- 
eral Conference. He acted not according to the 
counsel and advice of that body, although he pro- 
fessed to shape his course according to the condi- 
tions which it laid as a rule of action in the prem- 
ises. Hear what the General Conference says : 
"1st. That in view of the premises, and in the earn- 
est hope that this measure may tend to promote this 
object, the General Conference affectionately ad- 
vises that no further proceedings may be had in 
any part of our work, against any member or min- 
ister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, on account 
of any past agency or concern, in relation to the 
above named periodical, or in relation to any 
Union Society above mentioned." 

Hear what the Rev. William Compton says : 
" The plain inference is that those who have not 
been expelled, and who are guilty of the same 
things, must either comply with those conditions, 
or expect to share the same fate." 

What a false and wretched deduction from such 
fair premises ! How discordant are the sentiments 


advanced ! Does this professed minister of the 
gospel give the least assurance, by such declara- 
tions as the above, that he is the " messenger of 
peace" to these men, his brethren in the ministry? 
He does not. The majority of them were his sen- 
iors in the sacred office, men of unsullied purity of 
morals, of extensive Christian and ministerial influ- 
ence, had done much for the cause of religion and 
of the church ; yet the notes of love are not heard in 
the voice of this circular addressed to them by a 
co-laborer in the cause of the Redeemer. 

No argument is used by the minister to dissuade 
them from their present course ; but to all human 
appearance he speaks altogether as one who is 
disposed to lord it over God's heritage. No 
kind admonition is given — no Christian entreaty or 
appeal is made to these brethren. They are 
sternly addressed as offenders, and two unjust and 
unreasonable alternatives are presented to them, 
without being advised as to which they should 
accept. The subject is presented in the attitude 
of menace, either " to dissolve the Union Society 
of which you are a member, so far as you are con- 
cerned, and cease to patronize the Mutual Rights," 
or else " prepare for trial before a committee," the 
time of which trial they would be informed of. 

To become members of a Union Society infringed 
upon no man's rights; violated no precept of mo- 
rality or religion. To discuss freely and frankly the 
principles and polity of the church of which they 
were members, and in the service of which some of 


them had spent many years of toil and privations 
as itinerants, was a right which, as freemen, they 
knew not how to yield. Their organization of a 
Union Society had for its object a reformation in the 
government of that church, by the introduction of 
the principle of representation into the same, that 
her peace, her usefulness, and her prosperity might 
be promoted. The "Mutual Rights " was a period- 
ical devoted to this same object. The numerous 
essays published in its columns upon the subject of 
church polity, were written by distinguished minis- 
ters and members of the church, and of whose at- 
tachment and zeal for her true interests no one could 
justly doubt. In patronizing this periodical they 
involved no man in responsibility but themselves, 
the expense incurred they paid from their own 
purses ; and yet in view of all these things they are 
notified "to dissolve the Union Society, and cease 
to patronize the "Mutual Rights," and in the very 
preface of that notification they are given to under- 
stand that a failure of implicit obedience on their 
part, to this mandate, would cause them to share 
" the same fate" of those brethren who had been 
ejected from the church in other parts of the United 

The character of this "anti-reformer" was well 
known to the members of the Roanoke Union So- 
ciety. Against the reformers belonging to the 
Granville Union Society his influence had been ex- 
erted to exclude them from the pale of the church, 
and his arguments in justification of that affair were 
publicly known. 


Again, in the very first words in the opening ad- 
dress of this circular admonition, there is something 
that appears quite ominous. Instead of the frater- 
nal and courteous term of "brother" so generally 
used among Christians, we notice this address opens 
with "Mr. Bellamy.'' 1 

Indeed, this opening address of the circular ad- 
monitory, if it admits of such an appellation, was 
quite significant. It seemed to furnish presumptive 
evidence that these ministers of the gospel were 
not regarded as " brethren in Christ" by him who 
had now come to exercise authority in the church. 

This circular of Rev. Mr. Compton served as a 
premonition of what was to ensue. At this time 
there were eleven ministers and preachers mem- 
bers of the Roanoke Union Society, who belonged 
to the circuit under his superintendenc3\ The cir- 
cular produced no effect upon any, save Rev. M. 
Smith, who soon after addressed a letter to the 
society signifying his desire to withdraw, which 
was granted. Matters had now arrived at a crisis; 
the ministers refused obedience to the mandate of 
the superintendent — the die was cast. 

From the original papers before me, Rev. Mr. 
Compton's circular bears date August 14th; and 
sixteen days thereafter, the 30th of the same month, 
he proceeded to summon the victims for the sacri- 
fice. There is said to be " policy in war," and the 
steps taken in this procedure strongly indicate the 
policy of the principal actor. It was fairly under- 
stqpd that the ministers who were members of the 


Union Society, with their friends who were official 
members upon Roanoke Circuit, would constitute 
a respectable majority of the Quarterly Meeting 
Conference, before which body the cases of the 
accused would ultimately come, and if so, the 
measures of Rev. Mr. Compton would meet with 
certain defeat. This was easily foreseen. He, 
therefore, so arranged the order of business as to 
summon seven of the ministers to trial at one time ; 
it being well known that if that number were sus- 
pended by a trial before a committee, and divested 
of the right of voting on the case of each other 
in the Quarterly Conference, the prosecuting officer 
would be able to carry his point. 

The ministers cited to trial were Rev. William 
Bellamy, Rev. James Hunter, Rev. Henry Brad- 
ford, Rev. Eli B. Whitaker, Rev. Albriton Jones, 
Rev. William Price and Rev. Miles Nash. It ap- 
pears that from some cause not easily explained at 
this time, Rev. C. H. Hines was not summoned ; 
although from the beginning he had been side by 
side with the foremost of the others in the cause of 
mutual rights. As to Rev. Caswell Drake and Rev. 
R. Divison, a more summary] mode of procedure 
was reserved for them. 

The following is a true copy of one of the cita- 
tions issued — the original is before me. 

August 30, 1828. 

Mr. Bellamy, — You are hereby notified that the 
committee on your case will meet at Shady Grove 
meeting-house, on Saturday, October 4th, before 



whom you are requested to appear for trial, if you 
think proper. Wm. Compton, 

Assistant Preacher in Roanoke Circuit. 

These seven local ministers being summoned to 
trial at one of the extreme points of the circuit, and 
from thirty to forty miles distant to most of them, 
and being furnished with no charges or specifica- 
tions against them, and being well aware of the 
manner in which the prosecuting officer, Rev. Mr. 
Compton, was competent to exercise his arbitrary 
powers, not one of them attended trial. 

Mr. Compton's committee consisted of the Rev. 
Henry Fitts, a rabid anti-reformer, Rev. Thomas 
Cottrell, and J. J. Judge, a young licentiate, whom 
Rev. Mr. Compton had very recently prevailed upon 
to accept of license to preach, and for very just 
reasons this was supposed by many to be for the 
purpose of aiding more effectually in carrying out 
his purposes ; as he likewise took care to appoint 
another class-leader in a society which already had 
one, which was deemed sufficient for the society, 
thereby contributing to his strength to oppose the 
advocates of mutual rights. 

The committee, as above constituted, met ; the 
charges and specifications prepared by Rev. Mr. 
Compton, who acted in the double capacity of 
prosecutor and judge, were presented and acted 
upon ; and the seven local ministers were sus- 
pended from the exercise of the sacred office of the 
ministry. According to the regulations of discipline 
in the M. E. Church, the cases of the suspended 



ministers would necessarily come up for definite 
action before the ensuing Quarterly Meeting Con- 
ference, which was to meet at Horeb, on the 25th 
of the same month, (October,) 1828. 

The suspended local ministers were prompt in 
attending the Quarterly Conference. They enter- 
tained a hope at least of having an impartial hear- 
ing before that body, but they were doomed to dis- 
appointment. He who could lend his influence in 
the quarterly conference of Tar River Circuit, to 
excommunicate the venerable Lewellyn Jones and 
others from the church of God, without even a 
suspicion of immorality being brought against them ; 
no charge alleged but being members of a Union 
Society; and who could say, upon reviewing the 
whole affair, "I believe him justly expelled" — was not 
to be foiled in his measures of that sort in his own 
Quarterly Meeting Conference, at this time — his 
men were there. . 

When the cases of the suspended ministers were 
called up, objections were made against the preacher 
in charge, Rev. William Compton, and his three 
committee men being permitted to sit upon the 
trials now pending, upon the ground that they had 
sat and decided upon the same before. But the 
presiding elder, Rev. Joseph Carson, decided that 
they were legally competent. 

No formal report of the action or verdict of the 
committee was presented, but a list of charges and 
specifications were produced and read against the 
accused; being nearly similar against each one. 


The following is a copy of the charges and spe- 
cifications against the Rev. William Bellamy, taken 
from the minutes : 

" Charge 1. Endeavoring to sow dissension by 
inveighing against the discipline of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. 

"Specification 1. Introducing and furthering op- 
position to the government of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church. 

" Specification 2. His rejection of William Comp- 
ton from the authority assigned him by one of the 
superintendents of said church. 

" Specification 3. The circulation of a paper called 
the Tarborough Free Press, containing much invet- 
eracy against Methodism, and certain false asser- 
tions against William Compton. 

" Specification 4. His contempt of Wm. Comp- 
ton's authority, in publishing the said Compton's 
notification and citation. 

" Charge 2. His refusing to comply with the re- 
solution of the General Conference of 1828, as 
contained in the Christian Advocate and Journal, 
of June 20, 1828. 

"Specification 1. His not withdrawing from the 
Union Society of Roanoke Circuit. 

"Specification 2. A manifest determination to 
rebel against the government of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, by sending up delegates to the 
Baltimore Convention." 

In reviewing the preceding charges and specifica- 
tions, we find no allegations for any thing of an 


immoral character. The first specification appears 
to be founded upon the fact that the accused was 
one of the original members of the Roanoke Union 

The second, that he was still a member of that 
society when the resolutions were adopted, which 
the Rev. Mr. Compton seems to have regarded as 
equivalent to his rejection. These resolutions ex- 
pressed sentiments perfectly in unison with the 
feelings of every lover of justice and truth under 
all the circumstances. They are as follow: 

" Resolved, That the expulsion of Lewellyn 
Jones and others, in the Tar River Circuit, in the 
year 1826, for joining the Union Society there, and 
more particularly the part borne in that unfortunate 
transaction by the Rev. William Compton, now 
appointed a minister in this circuit, meets with the 
decided disapprobation of this society. 

"Resolved, That individually we apprehend a 
similar course is intended to be pursued towards 
ourselves: it being a sound maxim, that what has 
been done in all probability will be repeated. 

* In order to show the nature and bearing of the testimony pro- 
duced to sustain the first specification, I shall here introduce the 
evidence of Mr. A. W. Moore, who testified as follows: "Some 
two or three years past, myself and the Rev. William Bellamy 
were in conversation on the subject of reform in our church, at 
which time the said Bellamy told me that the principle of reform 
had had its influence on his mind for some time; and, if I do not 
mistake, he said it was made known to the brethren by himself, 
requesting them to think on the subject and make ready for its 
defence. — From the Minutes. 


"Resolved, therefore, That before we can receive 
as a messenger of peace the said Rev. W. Compton, 
we must be assured that he will endeavor to repair 
the wrong he has committed by using his best efforts 
to restore to the Methodist Episcopal Church, the 
said Lewellyn Jones and others that were expelled 
for the same cause." 

The assurance here asked by the members of the 
Union Society, the Rev. Mr. Compton was unwill- 
ing to give. To have done so would have been a 
confession of error on his part, and human nature 
has an antipathy to saying "I have done wrong." 
In the absence of the assurance asked, they were 
not able to receive their minister as a "messenger 
of peace," when he had declared, and the fact was 
published to the world, that as it regarded the re- 
formers he had "resolved to be no longer neutral." 
That being a well known fact, how could he be 
received as a messenger of peace by them? After 
the adoption of these resolutions by the Union So- 
ciety, the Rev. Mr. Compton saw proper, for reasons 
as yet inexplicable, to leave out of his circuit or charge 
five churches, respectable in numbers, piety and in- 
fluence, virtually cutting them off' from the connex- 
ion, and abandoning them altogether as a minister, 
and leaving the world vaguely to suppose that this 
was done simply because less than one-third, or 
one-fourth, of the aggregate of the members of those 
churches were members of the Union Society. If 
this minister wished to be regarded as a "messen- 
ger of peace," this step involved him in a funda- 


mental error. It admits of no palliation. These 
churches, as such, had not rejected his authority; 
nor had less than one-third of their members, as 
connected with the Union Society, required him to 
give an assurance to them of his character as a 
messenger of peace, in order to enable them to 
receive him as such. 

"Specification 3. The circulation of a paper 
called the Tarborough Free Press, containing much 
inveteracy against Methodism, and certain false 
assertions against W. Compton." 

This specification seems to require, from its 
character, a particular examination, inasmuch as the 
paper in question is alleged to contain certain false 
assertions against W. Compton. The Tarborough 
Free Press is a political paper; the number pro- 
duced on trial to sustain the specification is dated 
July 18, 1S28. A number of the same date is 
before me. The paper contains an address setting 
forth " to the members of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church" the state of affairs with regard to 
the subject of reform at that time. It notices the 
formation of Union Societies, and the persecutions 
and expulsions that had befallen the members of 
the same. It likewise contains a copy of the reso- 
lutions adopted by the Roanoke Union Society and 
sent to Rev. >W. Compton; Rev. W. Compton's 
reply to the same ; a review of that reply by the 
committee of correspondence; nearly all of which 
are to be found in the preceding chapter of this 
work. Also, a postcript of some five columns, from 


the pen of Col. S. Whitaker, in which he reviews 
the course pursued by Rev. Mr. Compton towards 
the members of the Granville Union Society; the 
position assumed by the same reverend gentleman 
upon Roanoke Circuit; and examines, with the 
acumen and learning of a jurist, the question of 
right concerning the appointment of Rev. William 
Compton to Roanoke Circuit, and his exercise of 
authority over the churches in that circuit ; and con- 
cludes with "observations on the influence of eccle- 
siastical principles over the civil institutions of all 
countries." In all these things the writer is unable to 
detect either the semblance of "inveteracy against 
Methodism," or of "false assertions against Wm. 
Compton;" but of truth and logical arguments, 
illustrated by facts, and directed against anti-repub- 
lican principles and irresponsible power. 

The Roanoke Union Society published many of 
its circulars and transaction in the Tarborough Free 
Press ; contracted for and circulated a large amount 
of its numbers containing their publications, among 
the Methodist community. This was offensive to 
Mr. Compton. The diffusion of light and know- 
ledge, with regard to the polity of the church, did 
not suit his views of Christian propriety. 

" Specification 4. His contempt of Wm. Comp- 
ton's authority in publishing the said Compton's 
notification and citation." This is the most ridicu- 
lous of all the items in the count. The Tarborough 
Free Press had been subsidized by the Union So- 
ciety, and upon the reception of the "notification 


and citation," each having the semblance of some- 
thing new under the sun, and the accused feeling 
himself under no obligation to keep secret such docu- 
ments as the Rev. Mr. Compton might send him, 
he very frankly consented to place them in the col- 
umns of that paper, there being no rule of church 
forbidding him such liberty, yet he was held to 
account for it. 

Specification 1st, under charge 2d. His not with- 
drawing from the Union Society of Roanoke Circuit. 

He had an indefeasible right to unite with the 
Union Society for the objects therein contemplated ; 
and as he contravened no law either of God or man, 
no human authority had a right to require him to 
withdraw from it. 

"Specification 2. A manifest determination to 
rebel against the government of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, by sending up delegates to the 
Baltimore convention." 

The fact that the accused was present at a meet- 
ing of the members of the Methodist Church, which 
was held for the purpose, to appoint delegates to 
attend a general convention of the friends of reform 
at Baltimore, was relied on to support this item in 
the count. During the interval between the trial 
before the committee and the sitting of the Quarterly 
Conference it appears that the Rev. Mr. Compton 
had been quite busy in traversing the country and 
obtaining certificates from a distance to enable him 
to carry his point. The Rev. Mr. Bellamy was the 
only person brought to trial on Saturday, the first 


day of the Quarterly Conference session. The 
friends of mutual rights made as firm and resolute 
a defence in his case as possible ; but they were over- 
powered by being outnumbered. The prosecutor 
had been able to muster a majority at that time and 
place to sustain his measures and doctrines. He 
was no novice in such business. 

It was during the discussions, pro and con, that 
the Rev. Joseph Carson decided "that when a 
preacher is appointed to a circuit, he is bound to go 
or leave the itinerancy, and if he does go, every 
member in the circuit must receive him and give him 
obedience or leave the church." To which the 
late Dr. Jno. F. Bellamy, a member of the Quar- 
terly Conference, replied, "that when a preacher is 
appointed by the bishop to a circuit, he must 
go, and has no appeal therefrom, I am fully aware 
was the rock on which O'Kelly and his associates 
were wrecked ; but do I correctly understand you 
to say that, if he does go, all the members in 
the circuit are bound to give him implicit obe- 
dience?" The chair replied, "You do correctly 
understand me." " Then," said Dr. Bellamy, "if 
this be the odious doctrine of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, I will not stay a moment longer in it, 
for I owe implicit obedience to none but my God." 

The local ministers were well aware that from 
the similarity of the charges alleged, the fate of all 
would be determined in the case of the first. The 
sun had gone down. Day had departed, and 
sable night had spread her curtains of darkness all 


around, when the vote was taken, and the Rev. 
William Bellamy, one of the first itinerant preach- 
ers who had traveled in Carolina, who had served 
as yoke -fellow with Bishop George in those early 
days of Methodism, was found guilty — expelled the 
church — the seal of official silence set upon his lips. 
And all this was for the wondrous offence of 
being in favor of a reformation in the government 
of the church. Surely that was a propitious hour 
for such a deed ! For the of sake religion we will 
pass in silence, the events of the following Sabbath 
day. The Quarterly Conference adjourned until 
Monday. The remaining six local ministers saw 
nothing before them but what they had seen meted 
out to the brother whose case had been decided. 
Hope had departed, but they were determined to 
face the storm they were unable to resist, with that 
firmness and constancy of purpose which became 
men possessed of unshaken confidence in the justice 
and righteousness of their principles. Monday came. 
The Quarterly Conference met. Minister after min- 
ister was called up — charged — found guilty — de- 
posed from the sacred office, and excluded from the 
communion of the church. They had served the 
church long and faithfully. Five of them had 
toiled in her service as itinerants. The Rev. James 
Hunter had filled the office of presiding elder. But 
these labors, these services, were of no avail. They 
were guilty of being in favor of a change in the gov- 
ernment of that church, and therefore unfit to de- 
clare the sweet and consoling truths of salvation — 


unfit for union among her membership or com- 
munion with her, although their religious morals 
were above suspicion. 

The last of the seven ministers who were ac- 
cused, Rev. William Price, was now called up. He 
was venerable on account of his age and the sanctity 
of his manners. He was one of the band who had 
followed the fortunes of Washington from battle- 
field to battle-field. He was well acquainted with 
the nature and extent of his right, and by hard- 
earned experience well knew and understood what 
those rights had cost. After having looked on and 
witnessed the trials and expulsions of his brethren, 
his turn had now arrived. 

The charges and specifications against him being 
read, a proposition was made to him, that if he would 
abandon the Union Society, and give up his princi- 
ples of reform, the charges would be withdrawn. 
This proposition was met with a scorn becoming 
the man. His speech is too good to be lost. I 
shall give an extract of a letter written by the Rev. 
James Hunter, who was present, addressed to the 
editor of the "Mutual Rights and Christian Intel- 
ligencer," in which a graphic description of the 
address is given. 

North Carolina, November 3, 1828. 
Dear Brother : 

Since I wrote to you we have had warm work on 
old Roanoke Circuit. The Rev. William Comp- 
ton, our assistant, and the Rev. Joseph Carson 


presiding elder, with their party, have succeeded 
in excommunicating seven local preachers, (myself 
among the number,) at our late quarterly meeting. 
They had the policy to arrest us all at one time, 
that they might deprive us of each other's votes. 
They had the candor to acknowledge that they did 
not deal with us for any act of immorality, but for 
our adherence to the cause of reform ; for we all 
refused to comply with their insulting and degrad- 
ing terms, namely, to withdraw from the Union 
Society and cease to patronize the " Mutual Rights." 
Our venerable brother Price, just before the sen- 
tence of excommunication was passed on him, ad- 
dressed the president and the conference nearly in 
the following words : "I am seventy-foar years old, 
have been a Methodist about fifty years. I w 7 as 
three years a soldier in the revolutionary war ; and 
while a prisoner, a British officer offered me a great 
bribe to join the British and fight against my coun- 
try, but I told him, if I had one hundred lives I 
would lose them all in fighting for my liberty and 
my country. I have considered well my situation, 
and am firm in my purpose. I shall not forsake the 
Union Society. I remember in your preaching 
yesterday you related an anecdote of two birds 
singing to each other : one sang, I love you, I love 
you ; the other responded, show it, show it. Now 
if you love me, show it." The firmness of the old 
saint inspired us all with fresh courage to suffer in 
so righteous a course. 

James Hunter. 


What admiration this pathetic appeal must ex- 
cite in the bosom of every lover of justice and of 
right ! The old veteran, although past his three- 
score years and ten, and staggering under the press- 
ing hand of time, his sun of life almost ready to dip 
its disc in the ocean of eternity, stands arraigned 
upon that soil (before a religious tribunal) for the 
liberty of which he had toiled, fought and suffered 
for three years. And, stranger still to relate, " the 
head and front of his offending" amounted to this, 
he had the independence, as a man, to think for 
himself, and the candor to give expression to the 
sentiments he had embraced, concerning the polity 
of the church, in a manner which he deemed per- 
fectly consonant r with his rights as a man and a 
Christian. He is found guilty of all this, and the 
aged minister of Christ is cast over the battlements 
of the church as unworthy of membership in it. 
And all this was done in Carolina, where the notes 
of American independence were first heard, and 
upon the very soil which had been consecrated by 
the blood of the martyrs of liberty. 

Review the transactions which have just been 
recorded, and the principles which prompted and 
governed the same, and surely every candid reader 
will at once arrive at the conclusion that the polity 
of that church which could tolerate and practice 
such measures, stood in much need of reformation. 

But the work which the Rev. Mr. Compton had 
before him was not yet done. Rev. Caswell Drake 
and Rev. R. Davidson, both belonged to the Roan- 


oke Union Society, although, from their location at 
the extreme end of the circuit, they were but sel- 
dom able to attend its sittings. The former at- 
tended the trials of the seven local ministers at the 
Quarterly Conference, and defended them before 
that body. His principles and sentiments by that 
means became no longer ambiguous, and he was 
doomed to be placed upon the same category with 
the devoted seven. In a few days after the trials 
at Horeb, Rev. Mr. Compton arrived at Warrenton, 
at which place the two local preachers above men- 
tioned held their membership in society, and called 
upon Rev. Mr. Davidson, who was the class-leader, 
and demanded the "class-paper," stating that he 
wished to make a new one. He received the paper 
containing the names of the members of the church, 
carried it away, appointed a new class leader, made 
out a new class-paper or list, containing the names 
of those who w r ere members of the church, leaving 
off the names of the two local preachers. He also 
called together the trustees of the church at that 
place, (Rev. C. Drake excepted,) and introduced 
and secured the passage of a resolution prohibiting 
those two local ministers from officiating in any of 
their pulpits, upon the ground that they were no 
longer within the pale of the M. E. Church. 

The above act may be comprehended in what is 
meant by the term, "scratch law." Who has ever 
read of such a mode of operation in ecclesiastical 
affairs ? Perhaps none. By what rule or law were 
these ministers of Christ tried ? By none at all ; 


no, not even the semblance of rule. No charges 
were made out, no citations given, no trials had, 
no rule of Discipline brought into requisition in the 
case ; but by the ecclesiastical dictum of the Rev. 
William Compton, and the dash of his pen, these 
two members of the church of Christ are stripped 
of all ministerial functions and cast from the bosom 
of the church, without receiving even the semblance 
of a formal notice of the same. Where was the jus- 
tice, where was the propriety of such a procedure 
as this ? There was none. It was worse than 
arbitrary — it was tyrannical in the extreme. But the 
heart sickens to contemplate such transactions as 
these. Yet "justice should be done though the 
heavens fall." It was such events as these which 
we have recorded that led to the organization of the 
Methodist Protestant Church. 

The Rev. William Compton is presented before 
the mind of the reader in this work quite conspicu- 
ously; and the writer regrets that the position 
assigned him is one so unenviable ; but truth re- 
quired a faithful narrative, and the actions of the 
man are recorded. The writer adopts the sentiment 
of Bishop Burnett, that "whatever moderation or 
charity we owe to men's persons, we owe none at 
all to their errors, and to that frame which is built 
on and supported by them." Mr. Compton no 
doubt felt that his actions were prompted by cor- 
rect motives at that time, although he inflicted such 
distress upon his Christian brethren. But he is no 
more — his race is run ; and he has gone to the 


presence of his Maker, and his actions have been 
weighed by the Judge of all the earth. The writer 
here takes pleasure in recording the fact that Rev. 
Mr. Compton remarked but a short time previous 
to his death, to a member of the M. P. Church, that 
" his feelings had been greatly moderated and softened 
towards the reformers" Of that fact we believe none 

About the time of the persecutions upon Roanoke, 
hostility began to manifest itself in different parts 
of North Carolina against the friends of mutual 
rights. On Albemarle Circuit in particular, which 
runs through the district of country lying on the 
south side of Albemarle Sound, several were 
ejected from the church without the semblance of a 
trial. The doctrines of mutual rights had been 
embraced by a few persons in that part of the 
country, and three local ministers, the Rev. Joshua 
Swift, Rev. Swain Swift, and Rev. H. Tackinton, 
were understood to be in favor of a reformation 
in the government of the Methodist Episcopal 

The Rev. William W. Hill attended an appoint- 
ment to preach in their immediate neighborhood, 
and as he was known to be an able and zealous 
advocate of the subject of reform, these three minis- 
ters requested him to say to their brethren and 
neighbors from the pulpit, after preaching, that 
" they were in favor of the doctrines of reform." 
The announcement was simply made, according to 


The preacher in charge of the circuit, Rev. J. D. 
Halstead, being at that time in a part of the circuit 
somewhat remote, learned the simple narrative of 
the announcement; and upon arriving at one of his 
appointments, about twelve miles from the place at 
which Rev. W. W. Hill had preached, proceeded, 
to announce from the pulpit that these three minis- 
ters, against whose moral or official characters no 
charges had been alleged, were no longer ministers 
or members of the M. E. Church ! What an out- 
rage upon reason and upon rights ; but more prop- 
erly an outrage upon religion ! The inquiry might 
arise, what was their offence, that they were thus 
summarily disposed of without form of trial ? The 
only answer at hand is simply this, they had re- 
quested an announcement of the fact that "they 
were in favor of reform." And for that offence the 
Rev. J. D. Halstead proceeded to declare them 
out of the pale of the church. Comment is un- 
necessary. The simple narrative is sufficient to 
demonstrate the shameful impropriety of such an 
unrighteous act. 

We may search in vain for any authority to jus- 
tify the conduct of Rev. Messrs. Halstead and 
Compton, in thus expelling ministers of the gospel 
from the church without the form or semblance 
of a trial. The sacred Scriptures warrant no such 

But the General Conference cf May, 1828, had 
issued a pastoral address, signed by the bishops 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church,' and certain 


doctrines are therein laid down which these divines 
may have seized upon as a pretext for the exercise 
of such high-handed and tyrannical measures. The 
objectionable doctrines set forth in that famous 
address are contained in the following remarkable 
sentence : 

"The great Head of the church himself has im- 
posed on us the duty of preaching the gospel, of 
administering its ordinances, and of maintaining its 
moral discipline among those over whom the Holy 
Ghost, in these respects, has made us overseers. 
Of these also, viz: of gospel doctrines, ordinances, 
and moral discipline, we do believe that the divine- 
ly instituted ministry are the divinely authorized 
expounders; and that the duty of maintaining them 
in their purity, and of not permitting our ministra- 
tion in these respects to be authoritatively controlled 
by others, does rest upon us with the force of a 
moral obligation." 

According to this celebrated manifesto, " the 
divinely instituted ministry are divinely authorized 
expounders" of discipline; consequently ample 
grounds aie here afforded for the lovers of power 
and authority to expound the same as best suits 
their views of propriety or bias of mind. Indeed 
this startling declaration of the General Conference 
savors very much of the claims of infallibility set 
up by the church of Rome. It is flattering to the 
minds of ecclesiastical aspirants, and no doubt may, 
and does turnish such as presume to deviate from 
the common path of disciplinary regulations by the 


allurements of ambitious feelings, with a pretext 
for their arbitrary measures. Taking every possi- 
ble view of the case that is presented at the present 
period, w T e are forced to the conclusion that, in the 
adoption and promulgation of such doctrines and 
sentiments, the General Conference could have 
been influenced by no other motives than a de- 
sire to strengthen the hands of the itinerant min- 
istry, and to impart to them a character of 
authority, whose prerogatives were not to be 
questioned by the local ministry and membership 
of the church. 

Up to this period of our narrative, there had been 
eight lay members of the church expelled in Caro- 
lina, (including one who had been informally cut 
off on Albemarle,) on account of their opinions con- 
cerning church polity. They had been condemned 
and ejected from the church contrary to the known 
rules of that church; they had appealed to the 
Annual Conference, and likewise sent up charges 
to that body against Rev Benton Field, preacher in 
charge, for mal-administration. The conference 
decided "it was not mal-administration," and there- 
by closed the doors against their return. Again 
we find that twelve ministers had been cast out 
from the church — seven of whom were admitted 
to the benefits of a mock-trial, and five were dis- 
posed of by the process of the scratch law. To 
appeal to that conference which had sanctioned 
the measures of the Rev. Mr. Field, would have 
been useless; therefore no appeal was made but 


lo the community, to their friends, and to their 

In the latter part of this year (1828) the friends 
of mutual rights in Lynchburg, Virginia, suffered 
persecution on account of their principles. Two 
local preachers and nine laymen were expelled 
from the church under the superintendency of the 
Rev. W. A. Smith; an act so manifestly unjust, and 
so void of all semblance of Christian charity, that 
it led to the withdrawal of about fifty members 
from the communion of the M. E. Church. The 
ladies, to the number of thirty-seven, following the 
laudable example set them by their sisters in Balti- 
more, addressed a letter to the preacher in charge, 
setting forth the reasons for taking such a step, and 
withdrew in a body from the church. We extract 
an account of these proceedings from the Mutual 
Rights and Christian Intelligencer. 

Lyncheurg, October 18, 1828. 
Rev. D. B. Dorsey: 

Dear Sir, — The most cogent arguments that can 
be advanced by the friends of reform, in support 
of the principles which they advocate, are feeble 
when compared with those demonstrative facts with 
which our opponents furnish us. The principles 
of the Methodist government had not been devel- 
oped until within the past year. It began with you, 
and each subsequent move more clearly tends to 
hold them out to public view; and in proportion 
as they are felt and s,een the cause of reform is 


advanced. Such, I am happy to say, is the result 
in this place. In your last paper you noticed the 
meeting of the friends of reform in Lynchburg, and 
published their resolutions. Our proceedings were 
speedily followed by citations to answer before a 
committee for " endeavoring to sow dissensions in 
our church by inveighing against its Discipline." 
The specification, " because they constituted an in- 
flammatory meeting, on the evening of the ISth of 
September, in the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
that adopted and published in the 'Lynchburg 
Virginian' a certain preamble and resolutions, 
signed C. Winfree, chairman, and John Victor, 
secretary, of an inflammatory character." This 
meeting was attended by a large number of our 
most respectable citizens ; and in whatever point 
of view it might be regarded by our opposing 
brethren, we have the united testimony of a disin- 
terested and intelligent public to sustain us in say- 
ing that it was conducted in an orderly, respectful 
and dignified manner. As to the character of the 
meeting, however, the committee did not express 
an opinion. The character and tendency of the 
preamble and resolutions were the ostensible ground 
on which they sustained the charge and specifica- 
tions. And thus for the expression of their senti- 
ments, on a subject of mere human policy and con- 
venience, were two local preachers and nine lay 
members, stewards, leaders, and one exhorter cut 
off from the communion of the church. I hope you 
will publish the preamble, that an enlightened com- 


munity may- distinctly see the development of that 
principle in our government, and that policy of our 
irresponsible rulers, which are exerted to suppress 
the freedom of speech and the press, apart from its 
licentious use ; for we humbly conceive that our 
sentiments in that paper are expressed in a calm, 
temperate and dignified manner. The decision 
of the committee was of course sustained by the 
Quarterly Meeting Conference. 

Such has been the influence of these measures, 
that although we had considered our number but 
small, we now find that we are surrounded by a 
host of warm and fast friends of reform. The 
females assembled and addressed a letter to the 
preacher in charge, a copy of which I send you, 
marked A, signed by thirty-seven members. Since 
that there have been other secessions, male and 
female, so that we now number sixty-two members, 
who on the 13th inst. formed themselves into a soci- 
ety, adopting an article of association, and receiv- 
ing the Rev. William J. Holcombe and John Per- 
cival as licensed preachers, appointed stewards 
and leaders, and formed three classes. A sub- 
scription paper was opened for the purpose of 
erecting a house of worship, and on this day up- 
wards of two thousand dollars are subscribed for 
that purpose. In the meantime the houses of the 
Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Baptist denomina- 
tions are open for our accommodation. Brother 
Holcombe preached on last Sabbath, at 11 o'clock, 
in the Baptist church ; the Episcopalian will be 


occupied by us on next Sabbath at the same 
hour, and the Presbyterian at night. Our cause 
is advancing daily. 

A number of our Methodist brethren are looking 
with anxiety to the convention ; and should it be 
determined to establish an independent church, 
and the foundation be well laid, we calculate on a 
very large addition to our communion. May the 
great Head of the church inspire us with wisdom 
commensurate with this importat business. Our 
meetings are well attended ; much love and union 
prevail ; and the members seem to enjoy the life 
and power of religion. We bear with patience 
the opposition and hard sayings of our opposing 
brethren ; nor will we return railing for railing. 
Yours, in much love and esteem, 

J. Victor. 

Copy of the instrument of association under which the 
reformers united on the 13th of October, 1S2S. 

We, the undersigned, formerly members of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church in Lynchburg, some 
of whom have been expelled from the fellowship 
of that body, solely for our reform principles, and 
others who have withdrawn from that church, be- 
cause of our objection to its government, and the 
arbitrary and oppressive administration of its Dis- 
cipline, have agreed to unite together as a society 
of original Methodists. Our object is to form, in 
connection with reformers generally, a system of 
government in which the great principles of 7'epre- 




sent at ion and mutual rights and interests shall be dis- 
tinctly acknowledged in connection with the system 
of an itinerating ministry. With these views, we 
will wait the result of the General Convention of 
reformers, to be holden in the city of Baltimore on 
the 12th of November next. And we now solemnly 
unite, in the name of the great Head of the church, 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, receiving the 
holy Scriptures as our guide; and for practical 
reasons adopting as an instrument of union the 
General Rules of the Rev. John and Charles Wes- 
ley, with subsequent regulations, as our peculiar 
circumstances may from time to time require. 

Resolved, that we receive Dr. W. J. Holcombe 
and John Percival (who have sustained the office 
of licensed preachers in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church for upwards of four years) as licensed 
preachers of this association, and that certificates 
of this our approbation and appointment be given to 
these our brethren by the chairman of this meeting, 
and countersigned by the secretary. 

And further, that George Percival, who has for 
many years sustained the office of exhorter in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, be received in this 
association in the same capacity, and that a certifi- 
cate of this our approbation and appointment be in 
like manner given him. 

C. Winfree, Chairman. 

J. Victor, Secretary. 



Resolutions of the Union Society in Cincinnati.— Trials and ex- 
pulsions of ministers. — Secession of a large body of members 
from the M. E. Church. — Letter of Dr. Bishop to Rev. Mr. 
Wright. — Call of a General Convention for 1828. 

Previous to the sitting of the General Confer- 
ence of 182S, a memorial was drawn up by the 
members of the M. E. Church at Cincinnati, and 
presented to that body when in session. 

The memorialists in their address justly repre- 
hended the prosecutions which had been had, in 
Baltimore and other places, against the members 
of the church on account of their opinions concern- 
ing church polity ; and respectfully prayed the con- 
ference to restore all such to their former standing 
as had been expelled, and also to adopt such 
measures as would prevent the recurrence of sim- 
ilar evils. 

On the 26th of June the Union Society met, and 
appointed a committee of five members to receive 
the report of the General Conference on petitions 
and memorials, and to report thereon. On the 10th 
of July the society met to receive the report of their 
committee, which was read and adopted, and the 
following resolutions passed. 

"Resolved 1. That we cannot but approve of 
the conduct of our expelled brethren in Baltimore, 


in rejecting proposals evidently so partial and un- 
just, and difficult to be complied with. 

" Resolved 2. That we feel extremely gratified 
at that degree of peace and prosperity with which 
they appear to be at present favored, and we sin- 
cerely pray that it may be long continued. 

" Resolved 3. That according to our present 
feelings and sentiments, we ought and do therefore 
design to patronize the 'Mutual Rights,' and to 
continue the Union Society until the meeting of the 
convention in November next, and then be governed 
as circumstances may seem to direct. 

''Resolved 4. That in order to prevent unpleas- 
ant feelings, we will use our influence with the 
editors of the above named periodical not to insert 
in its pages any matter calculated to excite the 
effects above stated. 

" Resolved 5. That it is our wish to promote peace 
and concord ; and whatever we can safely surren- 
der to our old side brethren, for peace and quiet- 
ness' sake, we feel disposed to do it. But the 
liberty of speech and of the press, with the right to 
assemble peaceably and orderly, to discuss church 
government or any other subject we may think pro- 
per to take up, is what we cannot relinquish to any 
human authority whatever." 

After the passage of the above resolutions, it was 
stated by some high in authority that the Cincin- 
nati reformers had passed the Rubicon, and could 
no longer be tolerated. 

On the 17th of July fourteen members of the 


Union Society were waited on by a prosecuting 
committee of the following members: Christopher 
Smith, Robert Richardson, Sacker Nelson and Lit- 
tleton Quinton. 

On the 25th of July brother William Young, a 
local preacher, was served with charges, of which 
the following is a copy; and notified to appear for 
trial at the Stone church, at 9 o'clock on Friday, 
the 14th day of August. 

" Rev. Wm. Young; is charged with endeavoring 
to sow dissensions in the society or church, in this 
station or city, known by the name of the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church, and with the violation of that 
general rule of Discipline of said church which 
prohibits members from doing harm, and requires 
them to avoid evil of every kind ; and especially 
with violating that clause of said general rule 
which prohibits speaking evil of ministers. 

" Specification 1. Because the said Wm. Young, 
while a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
did heretofore attach himself to, and become a 
member of the society called the Union Society of 
the M. E. Church of Cincinnati; which Union So- 
ciety is in opposition to the Discipline, in whole or 
in part, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and has 
arrayed and combined all the workings of the spirit 
of party in their pernicious and destructive forms, 
distinguishing its members as organized and sys- 
tematic opponents of the church aforesaid. 

" Specification 2. Because the said Wm. Young 
as a member of the said Union Society, directly 


or indirectly, either by pecuniary contributions or 
his personal influence, aiding, abetting, co-operat- 
ing or assisting in the publication or circulation of a 
work called ' The Mutual Rights of the ministers 
and members of the Methodist Episcopal Church,' 
printed in Baltimore, (for proof of which see ' Mu- 
tual Rights,' No. 44, page 230, 2d resolution ;) which 
periodical work or publication called the ' Mutual 
Rights,' &c, contains among other things much 
that inveighs against the Discipline of the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church aforesaid, in whole or in part, 
and is in direct opposition thereto, and that is 
abusive or speaks evil of a part if not of most of the 
ministers of that church; the general tendency of 
which periodical work has been to produce and con- 
tinues to produce disagreement, strife, contention 
and breach of union among the members of said 
church in this city or station. 

"Specification 3. Because the said Wm. Young, 
as a member of the Union Societ} r aforesaid, did at 
a meeting of said society, held on the evening of the 
10th of this month (July), vote for or otherwise 
agree to the adoption of the following resolution, 
viz: 'That according to our present feelings and 
sentiments, Ave ought and therefore design to patron- 
ize ' The Mutual Rights,' and to continue the 
Union Society until the meeting of the convention 
in November next, and then to be governed as cir- 
cumstances may seem to direct;' which resolution, 
on account of the licentious manner in w r hich the 
periodical called 'Mutual Rights' has been con- 


ducted, and on account of the discord and strife pro- 
duced by the organization and continuation of a 
distinct body, within the bosom of the church, 
called the Union Society, is a plain violation of the 
existing regulations under which we are voluntarily 
associated as Methodists and as Methodist ministers, 
and is in opposition to the judgment and advice 
of the late General Conference of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, and is well calculated to produce 
and increase the disagreement, strife, contention 
and breach of union alluded to in the 3d specifica- 
tion. For proof of which the publication entitled 
the 'Mutual Rights of the ministers arid members 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church' is referred 
to, and particularly the following pnpers." 

The papers here referred to are the same as those 
presented upon the trial of Dr. S. K. Jennings at 
Baltimore. From a careful comparison, the reader 
cannot doubt that the preceding charges and speci- 
fications were framed after the model or original 
invented by the prosecuting committee in Balti- 
more ; therefore the same papers pressed into ser- 
vice in that city would answer the purpose in 

Upon the meeting of the Quarterly Meeting Con- 
ference, it was determined, in order to obviate exist- 
ing difficulties, to appoint a committee to confer 
with a committee on the part of the Union Society. 
The committee were vested with authority in case 
of a failure to reconcile the difficulties, to devise a 
plan for a separation, and to report to the church 


the result. Several communications passed be- 
tween the two committees, but no terms were 
agreed upon. The friends of reform were willing 
to abolish their Union Society, but wished to re- 
serve to themselves the right to assemble as mem- 
bers of the church, for the purpose of transacting 
such business as they might think proper, for the 
purpose of promoting the cause of reform in the M. 
E. Church. They likewise refused to withdraw 
their support from the " Mutual Rights " at present, 
and in case they did yield that, they wished to re- 
serve to themselves the right to disseminate their 
sentiments through such a medium as they might 
see proper to select. The committee of the Quar- 
terly Conference regarded such terms as altogether 
inadmissible, and the correspondence closed with- 
out any thing being effected. 

A few days afterwards thirteen others were sum- 
moned to trial upon charges and specifications 
similar in every respect to those alleged against 
Rev. Mr. Young. Prosecutions having been thus 
commenced, involving principles, rights and inter- 
ests of an important nature to every friend of 
religious liberty, the reformers resolved to make 
common cause in the coming contest. 

After being summoned to attencl trial, the follow- 
ing vote was sent to the preacher in charge, asking 
the privilege of trial before the society of which 
they were members, according to the provisions of 
the Discipline. 


Cincinnati, August 9, 1828. 
Rev. John F. Wricht : 

Dear Brother, — We have received the charges 
which have been preferred against us by brothers 
Quinton, Richardson, Smith and Nelson. 

We have now to ask for the privilege granted in 
our Discipline to an accused member, viz : the 
rio-ht of trial before the society of which we are 
members. We would be glad if you would send 
us an answer by the bearer. Moses Lyon, 

E. Hall. 

To the preceding note Mr. Wright saw proper 
to make the following reply. 

Cincinnati, August 9, 1828. 
Messrs. Lyon and Hall : 

In answer to your note, I need only say the privi- 
lege you ask for is utterly impracticable. Neither 
you nor myself have power to compel members to 
attend; so that, if such a course should be deter- 
mined on, nothing is more certain than that no 
investigation could be had in the case. 

Yours, &c. J. F. Wright. 

The objection urged by Mr. Wright against 
granting the "disciplinary privilege," requested by 
Messrs. Lyon and Hall, is exceedingly strange. 
In the first place, it seemed to amount to a reflec- 
tion upon the membership of the church, virtually 
presuming a disregard, on their part, of the inter- 
est of the church. In the next place, it might be 
presumed that he regarded this rule passed by 


the General Conference, as an impracticable one. 
Neither of which positions can be regarded as true. 
But the key to his objections was possibly this : he 
feared the decision of the matter before the society. 

On Sunday, August the 10th, the ministers offi- 
ciating in the different Methodist churches in Cin- 
cinnati, were requested to read notices from the 
pulpits inviting the attendance of the members at 
Stone church, on the following Wednesday, at 
which time and place business of importance would 
be brought before them. 

This call upon the membership was made by the 
trustees for the purpose of obtaining an expression 
of their sentiments in regard to the proceedings 
which had been instituted. Some of the preachers 
refused to read the notices, and one recalled in the 
afternoon what he had published in the morning. 

Although opposition to the meeting was thus 
offered, a considerable gathering of the members 
took place. The objeci of the meeting being 
stated, the following resolutions were unanimously 
adopted : 

" 1. That the trustees of this station have au- 
thority to call the church together on business in 
relation thereto, whenever they are of opinion such 
call is necessary, and all such calls we consider 
leffal and valid. 

"2. That at such meetings, whatever business 
is laid before the church, a majority shall decide 
thereon, and that decision shall be binding. 

"3. That as these prosecutions most clearly 



involve a violation of that sacred trust committed to 
us by our forefathers, viz: the liberty of speech and 
of the press, and as they are contrary to the spirit 
and genius of our holy religion, unacknowledged 
by our book of Discipline, and highly dangerous to 
our civil and religious liberties, we hereby express 
our entire disapprobation of such proceedings. 

"4. That from any view we are able to take of 
these matters, the alleged grounds of complaint are 
totally insufficient to sustain the charges here pre- 

"5. That forasmuch as some of our accused 
brethren have required of the preacher in charge an 
investigation of these complaints before the church, 
and as the preacher in charge has denied that privi- 
lege, a privilege which is granted in the Discipline 
of said church, a right which, from the peculiar and 
uncommon nature of these charges, is imperiously 
called for, we hereby declare we shall acknowledge 
no expulsions as valid or legal where such right has 
been denied. 

"6. That we respectfully submit to the preacher 
in charge, the propriety of immediately withdraw- 
ing these prosecutions, as the objects for which they 
were instituted can never be accomplished thereb} 7 . 

" 7. That should the preacher in charge reject our 
counsel and advice in relation to these prosecutions, 
we hereby authorize and command our brethren, 
the trustees of this station, to adopt such measures 
to enforce a compliance with our wishes, as above 
stated, as they may judge necessary. 


"8. That a copy of the resolutions passed by the 
members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of 
this station, be presented, by the trustees of said 
church, to the Rev. John F. Wright, preacher in 

" 9. That the trustees be required to have the re- 
solutions passed by this meeting, recorded in the 
church book." 

A copy of the preceding resolutions was present- 
ed to "the Rev. Mr. Wright, accompanied by the 
following note : 

Cincinnati, August 13, 1828. 

Dear Brother, — We herewith send you a copy 
of the resolutions adopted by the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church in Cincinnati, at a meeting held this 
day agreeably to public notice given by the trustees 
of this station. We request you to inform us by 
the bearer whether you design to act in accordance 
with the wishes of said church. 


Rev. J. F. Wright. 

Mr. Wright replied in the following note: 

Cincinnati, August 14, 1828. 

To the Trustees, — In answer to your note, I 
beg leave to remark that, in my humble opinion, the 
trustees have exceeded the power vested in them 
by the law of incorporation, by taking jurisdiction 
over and interfering with the spiritual concerns of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church of this station, (as 


trustees,) inasmuch as their office only contemplates 
their having control of temporal affairs. 

You wish me to say whether I " design to act in 
accordance with the wishes of said church." To 
which I answer, from the smallness of the number 
convened together on yesterday, and as I am in- 
formed but few voted, I cannot suppose the wish of 
the church is yet ascertained. No regular investi- 
gation has yet been made, and I feel myself bound, 
as preacher in charge, to attend to the business as 
the Discipline of our church directs. 

Yours, &c. J. F. Wright. 

On the 14th of August the trials of the local 
preachers came on. There were four of them, viz: 
David English, J. B. Dorman, J. Haughton, and 
William Young. The committee appointed to sit 
on the trials consisted of Daniel Duvall, J. Walls, 
and John Clark. The accused brethren urged ob- 
jections against each one of them. Mr. Clark was 
a man whose rabid opposition to the cause of re- 
form rendered him particularly objectionable, but 
all objections were overruled. 

As various articles published in the "Mutual 
Rights," had been relied upon by the prosecuting 
committee to sustain the charges, they proceeded 
to read, as evidence, items of different articles from 
that work. The accused brethren objected to the 
proceedings in this respect, and insisted that the 
whole of each article should be read, in order that 
the true meaning and understanding of each essay 


might be had. To this objections were made, on 
the ground that it would occupy too much time. 
Late in the afternoon the evidence closed on the 
part of the prosecution. Three of the accused 
ministers then addressed the committee in their de- 
fence. They urged the impropriety of being held 
responsible for the written sentiments of other men, 
and those men, too, itinerant ministers, members of 
Annual Conferences, responsible to the same, and 
within the reach and control of the rules of the 
church. They also took the grounds that the ques- 
tion at issue was neither of a personal nor private 
character, and consequently could not be decided, 
with any degree of propriet} r , by such church prose- 
cutions; that neither Union Societies, nor such pe- 
riodicals on church polity as the Mutual Rights, 
were condemned by the word of God, or forbidden 
in the Discipline of the church of which they were 

They retired for the night, and on the following 
day pronounced the accused ministers guilty of the 
charges which had been preferred against them ; 
consequently they were suspended from all minis- 
terial functions until the sitting of the Quarterly 

August 15th. the trial of the ten lay members 
came on. Upon the opening of the trial, the ac- 
cused brethren arose, and one of their number, as 
spokesman, read the following paper: 

" As accused members of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church of Cincinnati, we claim the privileges 


granted us in the fifth restrictive rule of the Disci- 
pline of our church, in the following words, to wit: 
'Neither shall they (ihe General Conference) do 
away the privileges of our members, of trial before 
the society or by committee, and of an appeal.' 

" We do, therefore, protest against being tried 
before a committee or select number of said church 
contrary to our wishes or consent; and we do hereby 
notify you that we will not submit to any decision 
in our cases, unless such decision shall be made by 
the society of which we are members. 

"Signed, E. Hall, W. L. Chappell, H. Handy, 
S. Ashley, T. Wright, James Foster, M. Lyon, J. 
Snyder, J. Garretson, G. Lee." 

The disciplinary privilege claimed by the ac- 
cused, was disallowed by Rev. Mr. Wright, and 
they immediately withdrew from the house. The 
trials proceeded, and the ten brethren were all 
found guilty of the charges and specifications, and 
in a few days the preacher in charge sent the fol- 
lowing note of admonition to each one. The copy 
is taken from that sent to Mr. Hall. 

Cincinnati, August 18, 1828. 
Brother Hall, — I take this method of discharg- 
ing the painful duty of administering reproof, which 
devolves on me on account of my present situation. 
You have been convicted of endeavoring to sow 
dissensions in the society or church of which you 
are a member, by a decision of the committee ap- 
pointed to investigate the charges preferred against 


You therefore plainly discover that the only 
ground on which expulsion from the church can be 
avoided, is an abandonment of the course which 
you have for some time past pursued, and which, 
according to the judgment of your brethren of the 
committee, is calculated to produce diagreement, 
strife, contention and breach of union among the 
members of our church. 

As you are the arbiter of your own destiny in 
this matter, I hope you will inform me in writing, 
by Wednesday evening next, if you should feel 
disposed to comply with the above condition. 

Yours, &c. • JoHisigF. Wright. 

While the prosecutions were thus pending, the 
reformers, feeling deeply interested in the issue, 
held consultations together as to the proper course 
to be pursued under the circumstances. They 
were informed by the best of legal authority that 
according to the civil law they could compel Mr. 
Wright to grant the lay members the privilege of a 
trial before the society; or, in case of a refusal on 
his part, commit him to jail by a writ of mandamus. 
Reports were likewise in circulation that another 
catalogue of names of the members of the Union 
Society, to the number of about thirty, had been 
made in view of prosecution. The trustees em- 
braced the opinion that some prompt step should 
be taken in order to arrest the tide of prosecution ; 
and after much consultation and interchange of 
views one with another, they recommended that 


" forasmuch as no peace can be enjoyed in the 
church, reformers in a body had better withdraw." 
An appointment was therefore made for the re- 
formers and their friends to meet at the Stone 
church, at 2 o'clock on Monday, 18th of August, 
for the purpose of formally withdrawing from the 
church. At the hour appointed a considerable con- 
course had assembled, and the meeting had been 
opened in due form; and its object being stated, 
about two hundred and forty gave in their names, 
thereby formally withdrawing from the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. In the following letter, ad- 
dressed to the Rev. Mr. Wright, their reasons for 
taking this step are fairly and candidly stated : 

Letter to Rev. J. F. Wright from the seceding members 
of the M. E. Church of Cincinnati. 

Sir, — We have beheld with unfeigned sorrow 
and regret the proceedings lately had against our 
brethren, by way of distinction called reformers, in 
this city. These proceedings, we are compelled to 
say, are distinguished by cruelty and oppression in 
their most afflicting forms. You, sir, are not igno- 
rant that the church in this station expressed, at a 
public meeting called by the trustees for that pur- 
pose, their entire disapprobation of these prose- 
cuting measures. You have also been advised not 
to proceed, and forewarned of the awful conse- 
quences, by brethren whose judgment it was your 
duty to respect. Nevertheless, led on and assisted 



by a set of men, some of whom are remarkable for 
their ignorance, others for their deep-rooted preju- 
dices, and some by tempers of the most inflamma- 
tory character, yon have summoned a number of 
our brethren before a partial tribunal, prepared to 
do the direful deed ; and thus by the most unjusti- 
fiable measures you have procured the condemna- 
tion of our brethren, whose characters stand fair 
before both the church and the world. In these 
proceedings you must be aware you can neither be 
sustained by the Discipline of our church nor by 
the laws of our country. By an appeal to that tri- 
bunal we can compel you to accede to the reason- 
able request of our brethren. Alas! we lament to 
prove that civil law alone will induce any Method- 
ist preacher to accede to what religion and justice 
require. Oh ! " tell it not in Gath, publish it not in 
the streets of Askelon," lest the uncircumcised, the 
enemies of Christianity, triumph. But unwilling 
to avail ourselves of the advantages we thus pos- 
sess, we have determined to secede, and leave our 
brethren in the quiet possession of our sanctuary, 
our home, for peace and quietness' sake, and seek a 
place where a watchful Providence shall direct our 
way. We therefore request of you, forthwith, cer- 
tificates of our good standing and character; and 
pray that you and your associates in these unhal- 
lowed prosecutions may find mercy in the day of 
the Lord Jesus. 

Cincinnati, August 18, 1828. 



The court which had been convened to try them 
had no authority further than to suspend them from 
the exercise of ministerial functions, therefore their 
several cases came up properly before the ensuing 
Quarterly Conference. By the time this body met, 
owing to secessions, removals from office, &c, the 
friends of reform were in the minority. Before a 
tribunal composed almost entirely of the supporters 
of arbitrary power, many of them being the official 
creatures of the preacher in charge, no other de- 
cision could have been looked for than that which 
was rendered, viz: a confirmation of the verdict 
rendered by the committee — consequently the local 
ministers were all expelled from the church. 

However, the Quarterly Conference, willing to 
put on the semblance of lenity, proposed terms to 
the expelled, in the form of a resolution, upon which 
they might still retain their standing in the church ; 
those terms being such as no reasonable man could 
believe that they, under all the circumstances, 
would for a moment entertain — the conditions thus 
offered requiring them to withdraw from the Union 
Society, and to cease to patronize the " Mutual 
Rights." Such conditions had no charms for the 

The following official notice was sent to the local 
ministers, containing the decision of the Quarterly 
Conference in their cases : 

Dear Brother, — The conference have made it 
my duty to inform you of their decision. They 


have found you guilty of the charge, with its sev- 
eral specifications ; and have passed a resolution 
that if you promise to desist from the course in 
future for which they censure you, viz: that you 
withdraw from the Union Society, and that you 
cease to patronize the " Mutual Rights," that you 
retain your standing in the church. 
Yours, affectionately, 

G. R. Jones, President. 
Rev. W. Young. 

To the above note the Rev. Mr. Youno; sent the 
following reply : 

Dear Brother, — As it respects the decision of 
the conference in my case, which you gave me last 
evening, which informed me that they considered 
me guilty of the charges preferred against me, I 
expected nothing else, from a belief that the com- 
mittee of local preachers and a majority of the 
Quarterly Conference were selected with an eye to 
this decision. 

Concerning the proposition made to me by the 
conference, viz: to withdraw from the Union Soci- 
ety, and cease to patronize the " Mutual Rights," I 
have only to say, I shall reserve to myself the 
right to patronize and read such books as my 
judgment shall from time to time direct; and for 
the matter contained therein I shall endeavor at 
all times to pass judgment with a reference to the 
rule of right. I shall continue to think it a right 
belonging to me to converse with my brethren, in 


society meetings or otherwise, on the subject of 
church government or any other lawful subject. 

I have now to say that I consider the proceedings 
in my case to be illegal, and the decision to be un- 
just, and from it I shall appeal to the Annual 
Conference. I remain yours, &c. 

William Young. 

The four local ministers took an appeal to the 
ensuing Annual Conference, but, as might have been 
expected, that body confirmed the decision of the 
court below. The brethren who had seceded from 
the church were now destitute of a place of worship, 
but were very kindly accommodated by being ten- 
dered the use of the Second Presbyterian and Epis- 
copal churches. Verily they were enabled to adopt 
the language of the psalmist and say, " When my 
father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord 
will take me up." 

They were regularly supplied with the ministra- 
tion of the word by Rev. Messrs. Bishop, Price, and 
others. And now we have to record an act at 
which the feelings of every Christian, in whose heart 
the spirit of the Redeemer dwells, must revolt. 
The preaching of the gospel of Christ to the breth- 
ren who had seceded, by the Rev. Mr. Bishop, gave 
offence to the presiding elder, who notified him that 
he should institute charges against him at the 
approaching Annual Conference for such conduct. 
This man in high authority was prompt to redeem 
his word. Charges were presented to conference, 


but that body decided that they were not just 
grounds of complaint against the Rev. Mr. Bishop. 
But they requested him by vote not to preach the 
gospel of Christ to those persons in Cincinnati who 
had seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church 
on account of the prosecutions which had been 
instituted there. 

In this vote of the Annual Conference the Rev. 
Mr. Bishop felt himself as it were trammeled in the 
exercise of his ministerial functions, and that this 
request of the Annual Conference might in its ten- 
dency prove to be a snare to entrap him. Com- 
ment upon the unreasonableness and injustice of 
such a requisition is unnecessary. He saw proper, 
under the circumstances, to retire from the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church, and take charge of the society 
of those who had seceded. The following letter, 
addressed to the preacher in charge, defines his 
position with great clearness and force as a Christian 
minister : 

Rev. J. F. Wright : 

Dear Brother, — After much reflection, many tears 
and many prayers to Almighty God for direction, 
I have come to the conclusion that it is my duty to 
withdraw from the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
And I do hereby tender to you, and through you to 
bro. G. R. Jones, as the proper organs, a resigna- 
tion of my membership in said church, and shall 
from this date consider myself no longer accounta- 
ble to the discipline and authorities of the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church. 


It was not my design or wish ever to dissolve 
my connexion with a church for whose welfare 
I have felt a deep interest, and have labored to 
the best of my ability for thirty years; but I ex- 
pected to live and die within her pale. But 
the vote of the conference, prohibiting me from 
preaching to the seceded brethren in this city, im- 
poses a requisition with which I cannot comply as 
a conscientious man, and it involves a principle I 
cannot admit. I never can subscribe to the right of 
any man or body of men authoritatively to say to any 
minister called of God to preach the gospel to dying 
men, you must not preach to any congregation of 
immortal souls who are probationers or candidates 
for eternal happiness or woe. I must be at liberty 
to follow the dictates of my own conscience in ful- 
filling the commission given to me by the great 
Head of the church, "Go into all the world and 
preach the gospel to every creature ;" because I 
know I must give an account to Him for myself in 
the great day. I believe it is the will of God that 
I should preach to those seceders in this city, but 
the conference forbids it; for although the vote was 
in the form of a request, yet it being a formal vote 
of the conference, and made a matter of record on 
the journals, it amounts to an official prohibition; 
so that I am driven to the necessity of withdraw- 
ing from the church, or violating my conscience. 
And whether it be right to obey God or men, judge 
ye. In this matter I am not left to choose as in a 
matter of judgment, but of conscience. Hence, my 


brethren have compelled me to resign my standing 
in the church, which I suppose is what some of them 
designed to accomplish : and it may be pleasure to 
them, but it is painful to me. It is to my wounded 
soul like cutting off a right arm, or plucking out a 
right eye. 

But from a conviction of duty I must do it. I 
do not take this step from any hostile feeling, or 
from the dictates of any unhallowed passion ; my 
feelings are of a very different nature. No one cir- 
cumstance of my life has ever caused me more 
heartfelt grief than that in which the conference 
has placed me by the above act. I am frequently 
led involuntarily to exclaim, why. did my brethren 
do so? Surely if they had known the tortures they 
were about to inflict on my already lacerated and 
bleeding heart, they would not have done it. Al- 
though the church has had many much more able 
ministers, a truer or more sincere friend she never 
had within her pale. 

I have been in that church, I may say, from child- 
hood, but I now go out like the old servant of 
God, not knowing whither he went. But 1 lean on 
the divine arm, and trust the Lord will lead and 
support me. 

Contrary to my former calculations or intentions, 
I now retire from under the jurisdiction of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church, (which is near and dear to 
me,) for the reason already stated, that the com- 
mand of the conference and the command of Jesus 
Christ given to me, stand in direct opposition to 



each other. Christ says, preach the gospel to 
every creature. The conference says, preach not 
the gospel to those hundreds of souls in Cincinnati 
who have seceded from the church. So that I can- 
not obey one without violating the other. And if I 
disobey the command of the conference, in obey- 
ing the command of Christ, I subject myself to 
trial, suspension and expulsion, which I have reason 
to believe would be carried into execution ; and I 
do not wish any further affliction of this kind. And 
if I disobey- the command of Christ, in obeying the 
command of the conference, I shall endanger my 
eternal salvation. 

Under these circumstances, I dare not confer 
with flesh and blood; I must, therefore, stand free 
to obey the great Head of the church, and leave the 
event with him. Yours in deep affliction,* 

T. Bishop. 

The General Convention of reformers which met 
in Baltimore in November, 1827, appointed a cotn- 
mittee for the purpose of calling another convention, 
to meet at such time as they might designate, if in 
their opinion the general interests and object of the 
Methodist reformers required it. That committee 
met in Baltimore, July, 1828, and taking into con- 
sideration the action of the late General Conference 

* See " An exposition of facts connected with the late prosecu- 
tions in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Cincinnati," &c, 
printed in 1828; a copy of which has been politely furnished the 
author by bro. Conclin of that city. 


upon the memorials and petitions of the friends of 
reform ; and regarding as highly exceptionable the 
terms proposed for the return of those who had 
been expelled for being in connection with Union 
Societies, circulating or patronizing the " Mutual 
Rights," &c, determined upon calling another 

They stated in their address that "the committee 
wish it to be understood, however, that the}? in no 
case advise a separation from the church, until the 
sentiments of the reformers generally can be 
known, through their respective representatives in 
the contemplated convention. 

" In conformity to the trust reposed in us by the 
convention, for the reasons above stated, we hereby 
give notice that another general convention will 
be held in the city of Baltimore, in St. John's 
church, Liberty street, to begin its session on Wed- 
nesday, the 12th day of November next, at 10 
o'clock, A. M." 



General Convention of 1823. — Articles of Association adopted by 
the Convention. — Adoption of the Articles of Association by the 
Reformers generally. — Persecution of Reformers in Virginia. — 
Progress of Reform during 1829. — Letters and Reports from the 
agents appointed by the Convention. — Letters from Rev. G. 
Brown. — Extract of a letter from Rev. A. McCaine. 

The General Convention which met in the city 
of Baltimore, in November, 182S, was composed 
of delegates from the States of Vermont, New York, 
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North 
Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, New Jersey, 
and the District of Columbia. 

Upon the organization of the Convention, the 
Rev. Nicholas Snethen was elected president, and 
William S. Stockton was appointed secretary. 

The first business to which the convention pro- 
ceeded, was to take up and consider the reply of 
the late General Conference of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church to the memorial of the Convention of 
Reformers of 1S27. A committee of the following 
brethren were appointed to prepare an answer to 
that celebrated document, viz: Gideon Davis, D. 
C; Dr. Thomas Dunn, Philadelphia; James Tow- 
ler, Ohio; P. B. Hopper, Maryland; Dr. John 
French, Virginia. 

The review which this committee reported of the 
reply of the General Conference to the memorials, 



is an able document, which clearly refutes the ar- 
guments and positions taken by the General Con- 
ference, and is worthy of a perusal by all inquirers 
after truth. But owing to its length we are con- 
strained to omit it in the plan of this work. 

A committee was also appointed to prepare and 
report to the convention, a system of rules for the 
government of those reformers who might be dis- 
posed to associate together in an independent church 
organization. The committee was composed of 
Rev. S. K. Jennings, Baltimore ; Rev. W. H. Co- 
mann, Virginia; Rev. W. B. Elgin, Tennessee; 
Rev. Wm. Young, Ohio; Rev. N. Snethen, Mary- 
land; Mr. William L. Stockton, Philadelphia; Mr. 
Wm. C. Lipscomb, D. C.; Spier Whitaker, Esq., 
North Carolina; Mr. John Victor, Lynchburg, Va. 

On Tuesday, the 18th November, the following 
preamble and resolution were offered by Mr. G. 
Davis, and adopted by the convention : 

"Whereas certain resolutions were passed by 
the last General Conference with a professed design 
to restore to the communion of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, certain persons who had been ex- 
cluded from said communion, on account of their 
belonging to Union Societies and for patronizing the 
Mutual Rights; and whereas certain Methodist 
reformers in the city of Baltimore and elsewhere, 
who were interdicted said communion, and for 
whose restoration said resolutions were professedly 
adopted, have refused to accept the terms therein 
contained: therefore, 


"Resolved, That this convention consider the 
terms of said resolutions to be such as they could 
not accept and retain an honorable and Christian 
standing among their brethren ; and that they ap- 
prove of their course in this respect, as a favorable 
illustration of their adherence to just principles, 
equally honorable to themselves and the cause in 
which they have suffered." 

The committee upon organization presented their 
report, which was taken up, read, and ordered to 
be printed for the use of the convention. 

After various substitutes and amendments had 
been acted upon, Mr. John Victor offered the follow- 
ing resolution, which was adopted: 

"Resolved, That the several papers, together 
with the printed report of the committee on organi- 
zation, be referred to a select committee, with di- 
rections to collate the same and report thereon as 
soon as practicable." 

The following were appointed said committee: 
Rev. J. R. Home, Rev. A. McCaine, Rev. S. K. 
Jennings, Rev. J. R. Williams and Mr. G. Davis, 
who reported through their chairman, Rev. J. R. 
Home, which report being taken up and acted upon, 
article by article, was amended and finally adopted 
in the following form: 

Whereas the friends of a fair and equal repre- 
sentation in the government of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, when they have insisted on the 


necessity of a modification in the polity of the 
church, which should recognize this fundamental 
principle, the only safeguard to the liberties of the 
people, and when they have submitted respectful 
petitions and memorials to the General Conference, 
praying for the admission of the principle, have 
been met in 'the manner which has encouraged and 
prepared the friends of absolute power to request 
and urge them to withdraw from the fellowship of 
the church, and to threaten them with excommuni- 
cation if they should refuse to comply: 

And whereas many of our highly esteemed and 
useful members in the church, by an unjustifiable 
violence, have, been excluded from the fellowship of 
their brethren, and have been thereby compelled 
for the time being to form themselves into religious 
fraternities for the purposes of Christian fellowship : 

And whereas all the Methodists of the United 
States, and perhaps of the world, have been united 
together in their visible fellowship under the general 
rules of Mr. Wesley, which express the only condi- 
tion and legitimate test of membership: 

And whereas, in violation of good faith and 
brotherly love by an exercise of power not author- 
ized by the word of God, other tests have been set 
up for the support of that violence, by which many 
valuable brethren have been unlawfully excluded 
as aforesaid : 

And whereas these measures have been so con- 
ducted, that we are justified in believing it to have 
been the intention of the General Conference and 


the anti-reformers under their influence, to punish 
all the avowed friends of representation and intimi- 
date any who may feel inclined, to favor that 
principle : 

And whereas the late decisions of the Baltimore 
and Ohio Annual Conferences, as also the ultimate 
proceedings and report of the General Conference 
in relation to this subject, have placed every friend 
of representation in the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in such a situation that their opponents have it com- 
pletely in their power to compel them to renounce 
their principles, or be excluded from the fellowship 
of their brethren: 

And whereas the ministers favorable to the prin- 
ciples of representation, in sundry places, are no 
longer admitted to ordination or to occupy the pul- 
pits of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to the great 
grievance of many : 

And whereas the opposers of representation 
apear to show no concern for the spiritual welfare 
of those whom they have excluded as aforesaid, or 
of those who, on account of such exclusions, have 
considered themselves called on to withdraw out of 
the reach of their violent measures, but hold them 
up to public view as evil-minded persons, and pro- 
phesy evil things concerning them, notwithstanding 
the fact that those who have the best means of 
knowing the injured brethren have unabated confi- 
dence in their moral and religious integrity, and in 
common with all the admirers of steady adherents to 
principle, do actually applaud their firmness in 


holding fast the principle of representation, although 
by so doing they have been subjected to such heavy 
pains and penalties: 

And whereas the report of the General Confer- 
ence above referred to, not only has sanctioned 
their unjust proceedings, but in effect asserted a 
divine right to continue to legislate and administer 
the government of the church in this oppressive 
manner : 

Therefore, we, the delegates ot the friends of a 


Methodist Episcopal Church, elected and appointed 
by them to meet in convention in the city of Balti- 
more, in November, 1828, with a due regard to the 
fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty 
as recognized by the Constitution of the United 
States, and the several States of the Union, in com- 
mon with other Protestant churches, do in behalf of 
ourselves, our constituents and our posterity, in the 
fear of God, solemnly protest against the right 
of the General Conference to assume such power, 
or to institute or sustain any such violent proceed- 
ings to which it necessarily leads. And we do 
hereby acknowledge and sustain the right of those 
brethren who have been excluded, and of those who 
have on their account withdrawn as aforesaid, to 
unite and form themselves into communities; and 
we do this the more willingly, because in so doing 
they will now of necessity meet the demand which 
has been so often made by their opponents, to ex- 
hibit a plan explanatory of the changes which they 


desire, and what they intend to avoid until driven to 
it by necessity, to demonstrate by its practical ope- 
rations the expediency of a representative Method- 
ist Church government; and do therefore adopt 
the following articles of association for the govern- 
ment of such societies as shall agree thereto, under 
the appellation of Associated Methodist Churches. 


Article I. The articles of religion, general rules, 
means of grace, moral discipline, rites and cere- 
monies of the Methodist Episcopal Church, are 
hereby declared to be the rules of faith and practice 
for those societies which may unite in this associa- 
tion; and the mode of administering the same is 
hereby adopted, except when contravened by some 
other article. 

Art. II. Each society or church shall have the 
sole power to admit serious persons into full mem- 
bership, and to regulate its own temporal concerns 
in accordance with these articles. The stewards 
to be elected by the male members over the age of 
twenty-one years, and the leaders by the respective 

Art. III. The right of property is declared to be 
vested in the respective societies or churches, who 
shall elect trustees for the purpose of holding the 
same for their benefit. 

Art. IV. The trial of members shall be conduct- 
ed according to the seventh section of the second 
chapter of the Discipline of the Methodist Episco- 


pal Church ; provided, however, that nothing there- 
in contained shall be so construed as to deprive an 
accused member of the right to challenge; and 
provided, further, that the accused shall have a 
right to appeal from the decision of the committee 
to the next Quarterly Conference ; and no member 
of that Conference who shall have sat on any case 
as a committee-man, shall be permitted to vote on 
the appeal. 

Art. V. There shall be a Quarterly Conference 
in each station and circuit, composed of all the 
ordained and licensed preachers and exhorters 
belonging thereto, and of all the stewards and 
leaders. The preacher in charge shall be the presi- 
dent of the conference. The conference shall elect 
its own secretary. The business of the Quarterly 
Conference shall be, first, to inquire into the official 
and religious character of its members ; secondly, 
to license exhorters and suitable persons to preach 
the gospel, and to recommend to the Annual Con- 
ference preachers for ordination or to travel. They 
shall also hear and decide upon appeals from 

Art. VI. There shall be in each State, as soon 
as may be, one, or not exceeding two, Annual Con- 
ferences, to be composed of all the ordained minis- 
ters and an equal number of lay delegates. But 
until such time, conferences may be formed when 
it shall be most convenient. The lay delegates to 
the Annual Conferences shall be chosen by the 
licensed preachers and lay male members over the 



age of twenty-one years, at the Quarterly Meetings 
next preceding the sitting of the Annual Con- 

Art. VII. Each Annual Conference shall elect a 
president and secretary. 

Art. VIII. Each Annual Conference shall pro- 
vide the mode of stationing its own preachers. 

Art. IX. It shall be the duty of the presidents 
of the Annual Conferences to travel through their 
respective bounds, to fill vacancies, and to make 
such changes in the circuits or stations as may be 
deemed absolutely necessary. The president shall 
have the right of the pulpit in whatever place he 
may be, but shall not supersede the prerogatives of 
the minister in charge. 

Art. X. Each Annual Conference shall have 
power to make such rules and regulations for its 
own government, and the Government of the stations 
and circuits within its bounds, as may be necessary 
for the promotion of the spiritual interests of the 
community; provided, nevertheless, that no rule 
shall be binding on the preachers or people, which 
shall contravene the provisions of these articles. 

Art. XI. Each Annual Conference shall have 
power to receive into the itinerancy and to ordain 
such preachers as may be recommended to that 
body by the Quarterly Conference. The president, 
assisted by two or more elders, shall perform the 

Art. XII. The Annual Conferences shall fix the 
times and places of their sittings. 


Art. XIII. Every person whose name is entered 
on the list of traveling preachers, shall be subject 
to the appointment of the conference and receive 
the same allowance as is provided in the Discipline 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

Art. XIV. It shall be the duty of the preacher 
in charge of any station or circuit, as soon as prac- 
ticable after his arrival in his circuit or station, to 
assemble the Quarterly Meeting Conference, that 
he may obtain the necessary information for the 
proper understanding of the condition of the circuit 
or station, and for enlisting all the helps within its 
limits, for carrying on the great work of the Lord. 

Art. XV. Nothing contained in these articles is 
to be so construed as to interfere with the right of 
property belonging to any member of this associa- 
tion, as recognized by the laws of the State within 
the limits of which the member may reside. 

Art. XVI. There shall be a General Convention, 
to be held in the city of Baltimore on the first 
Tuesday in November, 1S30, to be composed of an 
equal number of ministers and lay representatives 
chosen by the Annual Conferences respectively. 

Art. XVII. Supernumerary and superannuated 
ministers shall be entitled to the same amount of 
support which is allowed to those more effective. 
And if any circuit or station should be willing to 
support any one or more of such supernumerary or 
superannuated ministers for any indefinite number 
of years, the privilege shall be granted them. 


The convention, in order to carry out its objects 
more effectually, passed several resolutions, among 
which are the following: 

"Resolved, That agents be appointed with full 
powers to travel through the different States, and 
assist in carrying into effect the articles adopted by 
this convention, and employ such other persons to 
aid them as they may deem proper. 

"Resolved, That a committee of five be appoint- 
ed to prepare a Constitution, a Book of Discipline, 
and a Hymn Book, to be submitted to the conven- 
tion to be held on the first Tuesday in November, 
1830, in the city of Baltimore. In order to carry 
out the provisions of this resolution, the following 
brethren were appointed to constitute the committee, 
viz: Rev. James R. Williams, Rev. A. McCaine, 
Rev. S. K. Jennings, Mr. Gideon Davis and Mr. 
John J. Harrod. 

" Resolved, that it is the opinion of the conven- 
tion that elders and deacons who have been or may 
be deprived of their offices in the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, on account of reform, sustain the 
same characters and offices in the Associated Meth- 
odist Churches as they did in the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church." 

The convention also adopted a form of deed to 
secure to the use of individual societies the church 
property intended for the use of the Associated 
Methodist Churches. 

It was just cause of gratulation to the friends of 
mutual rights that the convention were enabled to 


adopt these articles of association, as the expelled 
and the withdrawn from the M. E. Church could 
unite under them in church union and fellowship; 
and as they pointed forward to better things to 
come, they were hailed and received as the harbin- 
ger of prosperity. These articles of association 
were adopted with great unanimity by the friends 
of reform throughout the length and breadth of the 

The powers that he of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church now, for the first time, began to see that 
" the ashes of the martyrs are the seed of the 
church," and that the unjust persecutions which 
they had waged against the friends of reform were 
building up a new and distinct ecclesiastical organ- 
ization, professing the same doctrines and observing 
the same means of grace with themselves. The hand 
of persecution, which had been busy, was not stayed. 
The epithets of "backsliders," "apostates," "ma- 
licious persons," " radicals," and " disorganizes," 
were generally applied to the advocates of reform, 
and frequently too by those who professed to be the 
" divinely authorized expounders of gospel doc- 
trines and moral discipline." Many of them seemed 
to be fully persuaded that the reformers were 
amongst the most wicked and impenitent through- 
out the land. To sustain this assertion, we shall 
relate an anecdote that came under our own obser- 
vation. During the excitement upon the subject 
of reform in Carolina, the ministers of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church held a camp-meeting in a part 



of the country where the principles of mutual rights 
were taking root. One of the divinely authorized 
(no doubt thinking he was doing God service) took 
it into his head during his sermon at this meeting 
to hold up to his audience the characters of the 
reformers in a most appalling light, and closed his 
phillipic In the following remarkable words : " For 
we do believe that if these reformers do not reform, they 
will never see the face of their God in 'peace.' 1 '' 

The very favorable reception which the con- 
ventional articles of association met aroused to 
action the spirit of proscription in quarters where it 
had heretofore lain dormant. Soon after the rise 
of the convention the spirit of persecution began to 
rage violently in Virginia, in Northumberland county, 
and in Lynchburg, in that State, in Georgetown, 
D. C., in North Carolina, and in other parts of the 

We will here copy an article from the columns 
of the "Mutual Rights and Christian Intelligencer," 
of February 20lb, 1S29, showing the manner in 
which the Rev. Benedict Burgess and others were 
disposed of by the authorities of the M. E. Church: 

"Brother Dorsey, — I am not fond of writing, 
but on the present occasion it becomes my duty to 
give you, as far as I am able, an account of pro- 
ceedings against reformers in this county. In doing 
this I am determined to extenuate nothing, nor to 
set down aught in malice ; if I err, it shall not be 
intentional ; and correction of an error will be 
acknowledged by me with cheerfulness. 


" We live in Northumberland county, State of 
Virginia, which forms a part of what is called Lan- 
caster Circuit, in which we were members of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. This circuit I trav- 
eled in the years 1809 and 1810. From that time 
I have remained here in a local relation to said 
church, doing my best to promote the Redeemer's 

" Soon after my return from the convention held 
in Baltimore, in November last, I received a letter 
from the Rev. Samuel Clarke, preacher in charge 
of Lancaster Circuit, addressed to Benedict Bur- 
gess, Thomas Berry, John Lansdell, and others, 
requesting information, in the following words : 
' Do you, or do you not, consider yourselves mem- 
bers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and hold 
yourselves amenable to its laws ? or do you con- 
sider yourselves members of another society ? I 
wish you to give me a definite answer to these 
lines.' For myself, I could have sent him an an- 
swer, (but not for others,) that I did consider my- 
self a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
The ensuing Sabbath I preached at Fairfield's 
meeting-house, and informed the congregation I 
thought that the last time I should address them as 
a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, con- 
cluding in my own mind that the letter was sent 
preparatory to a trial. After the congregation was 
dismissed, and the society retained, I rose and 
observed that I had received the above letter, and 
not knowing the minds of all to whom it was ad- 


dressed, I thought it my duty to read it to them. 
After reading the letter, I told them the course I 
meant to pursue, and asked their concurrence, to 
which all appeared to agree. The press of busi- 
ness prevented me from accomplishing my purpose 
of seeing brother Clarke the next week; and on the 
Sunday following, which was the 21st of December 
last, I went to meeting and found him in the pulpit. 
He preached from Genesis xiii, S and 9 : ' And 
Abraham said unto Lot, let there be no strife, I 
pray thee, between me and thee, and between my 
herdmen and thy herdmen, for we be brethren. Is 
not the whole land before thee ? Separate thyself, 
I pray thee, from me ; if thou wilt take to the left 
hand, then I will take to the right ; or if thou wilt 
take to the right hand, then I will go to the left.' 
I thought I saw a great discrepance between the 
spirit of Abraham and our preacher. This might 
have been owing to the excitement under which he 
labored. The fatal consequences of Lot's choice 
were largely descanted upon. After sermon the 
Rev. T. C. Thornton detained the people by a 
short exhortation, while, as I suppose, preparations 
were making. After he sat down brother Clarke 
again resumed the stand, and, as nearly as I can 
now recollect, addressed the congregation in the 
following words : ' I am for peace ; I serve the 
God of peace. It is well known that there is and 
has been strife in the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
not on doctrines, but on church government. There 
has lately been a convention in Baltimore, and 


those who went and those who sent delegates to 
that convention have joined another church by that 
act. Therefore the following names are to be con- 
sidered as having withdrawn from the Methodist 
Episcopal Church.' Eight or ten names were then 
read out. I arose to address the congregation 
from the altar, when the people were dismissed 
and requested to withdraw, in order to hold a class- 
meeting. After the doors were closed, I requested 
of brother Clarke liberty to speak, and had it 
granted if I would not be long. I told the society 
I protested against the course that had been pur- 
sued ; that my going to the convention was for the 
purpose of consolidating those brethren who had 
been expelled, and to provide an asylum for my- 
self and others who might be expelled for maintain- 
ing the principle of righteousness in representation ; 
that I rejoiced in having had the privilege of attend- 
ing the convention, and thought it one of the best 
acts of my life. 

" After considerable altercation, I told brother 
Clarke that it was probable he had not read out 
enough, and he had better ask if there were any 
more. He did so, and a number more arose and 
observed they were equally guilty (if there was any 
guilt in the act) with myself and those other breth- 
ren who had been read out. In the confusion that 
ensued, there was no appointment made for Christ- 
mas day, and of course there could have been no 
general notice given. As far as it could be done, 
there was notice that on that day I would preach, 


and proceed to form an Associated Methodist 
Church at Fairfield's. Although the eight or ten 
names which were read out were in various parts 
of the circuit, and the Rev. T. C. Thornton attended 
our meeting on Christmas, and used his best efforts 
to prevent, as I thought, our organization, (this he 
denied as being his object,) there were enough 
united themselves under the conventional articles 
to prove that all were not read out who believed 
the government of Episcopal Methodism and des- 
potism to be the same thing. We set down twenty- 
one names ; elected brother Thomas Berry our 
class-leader, and John Lansdell our steward ; ap- 
pointed two prayer-meetings in the week, and a 
day of fasting and prayer. Since then we have 
been on the increase, and the blessing of God ap- 
pears to attend our efforts to promote the Redeemer's 
kingdom. Last Saturday was Quarterly Meeting 
day for the circuit ; and the Quarterly Conference, 
purged and purified as it was, sanctioned all that 
had been done, and directed their proceedings to 
be published. 

" I am now acting under the conventional arti- 
cles, and shall do my best, as soon as I can, to 
enlarge the work and spread the principles. We 
are in want of a man of experience and heart- 
felt religion to take charge of the executive 
department of the churches that are springing up 
in this section. 

" Yours, in the bonds of mutual rights, 

"B. Burgess." 


The organization of the friends of reform into 
churches and societies under the conventional arti- 
cles, marks a new era in the history of reform. Up to 
this period there was no point to which the expelled 
and proscrihed could look for relief upon being cast 
out from the pales of the M. E. Church ; but a 
brighter day had now dawned, and associated 
Methodist Churches were being organized through- 
out the length and breadth of the land. The gales 
of prosperity wafted onward the cause, and success 
attended the efforts of those ministers who labored 
to propagate the doctrines of mutual rights. The 
agents appointed by the convention under its first 
resolution, " to travel through the different states," 
were of eminent service to the cause in organizing 
and building up churches, although they were 
invariably opposed in their operations by the sup- 
porters of clerical domination. 

Their reports are highly interesting. We sub- 
join a few extracts from the "Mutual Rights and 
Christian Intelligencer." 

From the Rev. Dr. J. French, one of the agents for 

Norfolk, January 30, 1829. 
Dear Brother, — Societies have been formed 
under the conventional articles at the following 
places on this part of the seaboard of the state, 
viz : Princess Anne court house, (this society was 
formed 30th Nov.;) Cowlings' meeting house, Nan- 
semond county; Smithfield and Bethel, Isle of 



Wight county; Hampton and Fox Hill, Elizabeth 
city county; and Old Point. Yesterday I received 
a letter from the Rev. Miles Kino;, of Mathews 
county, in which he stated that he had formed 
a society there. 

I have several appointments out, commencing at 
Suffolk to-morrow evening, at all of which I expect 
to form societies. I have not learned what is doing 
in other parts of the state. We shall' get on but 
slowly during the winter. But by the blessing of a 
good Providence I hope we shall move on rapidly 
when the spring opens upon us. The prospect 
exceeds my expectation. Faithful preaching and 
holy living, with the due enforcement of the moral 
discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which 
is recognized by our first conventional article, will 
bear down every thing before us. My method is, 
to insist on every person examining the matter in 
dispute, so as to understand it, and then follow the 
honest convictions of his own mind ; and that, which 
ever side he may take, he is bound to cultivate kind 
feelings toward those who differ from him in opinion. 
I insist upon the possibility and necessity of our 
living in peace and brotherly love, whilst we differ 
in opinion. How much of the religion of Christ 
can dwell in any other bosom than that which en- 
tertains this holy principle? But alas! our oppos- 
ing brethren, blinded by passion as it would seem, 
appear determined to give no quarters. But "let 
us know our calling better" than to "return railing 
for railing." Our holy religion imperiously requires 


that we should be loving and kind to all men. 
Jesus Christ has set us this example, nor are we at 
liberty to depart from it. If we do, we shall be in 
danger of eternal fire. For the want of a house, 
nothing has been done in this place. ]n the spring 
we expect to commence building one. We have, 
however, procured a large room, and on Wednes- 
day, the ISth Feb., we intend to have a meeting 
and form a society. I hope to be able to return 
home by that time. 

I think we shall do pretty well here. Since I 
have been free I have tasted the sweets of liberty; 
and really it surpasses my expectation. It is a 
blessing indeed. The fraternal feeling, oh how 
delightful it is! No lord, no master, save one. 
All we are brethren. " Let brotherly love continue." 
Yours in Christ, John French. 

Extract of a letter from the Rev. W. W. Hill, one of 
the agents for North Carolina, dated Warrenton, 
Feb. 2d, 1S29. 

Brother Dorsey, — At some future period I 
expect to give you some concise account of things 
respecting reform in Carolina. I am now on a tour 
of some extent, and am pleased with our prospects. 
In some places our cause is triumphant, though in 
its infancy. All I think necessary for our speedy 
triumph throughout the state, is a regular plan of 
operation and a few efficient itinerant ministers, to 
act in union with our local materials. Our cause 
is dear to every patriot, statesman, and, I may add, 



enlightened Christian, who thoroughly understands 
it. But it must have effective support. 

Dr. Home has been arrested, but has vanquished 
his assailants. You will soon hear from him 1 

Extract of a letter from the Rev. Eli Henkle, one of 
the agents for Maryland. 

Dear Brother, — I commenced the duties as- 
signed me by the late convention, on the Sabbath 
after I reached home, and organized the first class 
at Providence meeting house, on the same day. 

The first person who came forward was our old 
friend, the Rev. Aquila Garretson, once a traveling 
preacher, but who has been ]ocal for many years past. 
In a few days after this event, I was informed by 
the preacher in charge of Baltimore Circuit that 
the meeting house had been secured, by a proper 
deed, to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and that 
he did not know whether the trustees would allow 
the reformers to preach in it. Our friends in this 
neighborhood, however, appear to be determined to 
attend to this matter, without troubling the mem- 
bers of society. With all the menacing which we 
have heard from the authorities, we have still con- 
tinued to use the house withoat interruption. 

The second class in Baltimore Circuit was raised 
at Sandy Mount meeting house, on the first Sunday 
in December. The members of the old church in 
this place had become quite numerous, insomuch 
that Mr. S. had talked of dividing them into two 


classes. This, however, they saved him the trou- 
ble of doing, by dividing themselves; and I suppose 
not altogether to his liking, for his class is as much 
too small now as it was too large before. This is 
called " raining the society," although everv one 
has been left entirely free to decide and act for him- 
self. It will be remembered that many of the above 
members were the fruits of the reformers' camp- 
meeting, held in that neighborhood last October; to 
which we could not prevail on a single itinerant 
preacher to come. We next organized in West- 
minster, in Frederick county ; and here our suc- 
cess was fully equal to my previous calculations. 
A good class was formed the first day, and others 
have joined since. We anticipate no difficulties 
respecting the meeting house in this place, as it 
is free; and the citizens are almost unanimously 
friendly to our cause, except members in the old 
church, and a few R**** C ******** — distant 

We also organized in Reisterstown, Baltimore 
Circuit. And here our numbers surpassed my ex- 
pectations. Several of the oldest professors in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church joined the new class; 
and they also are permitted to worship in a house 
which belongs to the people of the village, who are 
generally our fast friends. In consequence of 
family afflictions, I have not yet been able to ex- 
plore Great Falls Circuit to any extent. However 
I have made an effort to organize at two places; 
the first of which was at Cullison's meeting house, 


where but few gave in their names — others intend 
to join hereafter. The next place was at Chesnut 
Ridge meeting-house, built for the Methodist society. 
The whole of both classes at this place made a 
transfer of themselves to the Associated Methodist 
Churches. There are many other places in readi- 
ness for us, and even anxious to leave the old 
establishment. I understand the trustees of several 
meeting houses have had their orders from the 
itinerants. I do not intend, however, to allow my- 
self to be frightened by shadows. The six classes * 
organized in this part of the country consist of 
about 160 or 170 members — nearly all out of the 
old church. Our meetings have been profitable. 

Last week I returned from a visit to Harford 
county, where I organized classes at the following 
places, viz: the Log meeting-house, Wesleyan 
church, Waters' meeting-house, Abingdon, Calvary 
meeting-house, and the Union chapel. The num- 
bers in these places I cannot precisely state, but 
judge that the classes formed will average twelve 
or fifteen members. Many others are ready to 
unite in different places which I did not visit. At 
the Wesleyan church (a large new brick house) 
the whole society united with us. At the Union 
chapel the same calculation may be made. The 
leading members have led the way; and, although 
all have not yet followed them, we see a very fair 
prospect of their doing so, as the preachers of the 
circuit have not visited that appointment since the 
convention in November. 


Our brethren of the new church are expecting 
and preparing for a preacher or two. immediately 
after the conference, and will contribute liberally 
towards their support. At present the new classes 
are under the care of brothers Richardson and 
Webster, who have agreed on a time when they 
intend to visit the upper part of Harford Circuit. 

The first Quarterly Meeting in Harford, for the 
new church, is to be held on the last Saturday and 
Sunday in March. The place will be named here- 
after. At our meetings we usually had comfortable 
seasons. They were well attended. I intended 
inserting several interesting anecdotes, but feared 
I would be too tedious. 

The first church was formed in the city of Phil- 
adelphia under the conventional articles of asso- 
ciation, in March, 1829, as the following extract of 
a letter from the columns of the Mutual Rights and 
Christian Intelligencer will show: 

Philadelphia, March SO, 1829. 
Brother Dorsey, — You will please to consider 
this an official communication. In the beginning 
of the present month the association of reformers 
in this city adjourned sine die. A tew days after, a 
church was formed and the conventional articles 
adopted, except the fifteenth, which, having no 
application in this part of the country, was waived. 
Our well beloved brother Dr. Thomas Dunn is our 
chosen pastor. Our first meeting for public worship 


was held on the 22d inst., at which time so evident 
were the enlightening, suasiveand melting influences 
of divine grace on both the preacher and congre- 
gation, that no one could deny the presence of the 
divine and only Head of the church. 

Classes have been formed, prayer meetings held, 
and on the 2Sth and 29th inst. a Quarterly Meeting 
was holden. In all our meetings the Saviour of 
our Israel has vouchsafed his blessings, and more 
especially in our love-feast on Sabbath morning, 
when we had peace and Christian fellowship, and 
were all of one mind and of one heart. There were 
about one hundred and fifty present. We have 
every needed assurance that our duty is to take 
courage and press forward, praising the Lord con- 
tinually. The Wesley an Society of Kensington (a 
district of this city) adopted the conventional arti- 
cles on the 26th inst. That society consists of more 
than two hundred members, and has a good meet- 
ing house. ttt o 

° W. S. Stockton, ) 

T n > Committee. 

Joseph Uramerj ) 

In the northern and north-western States the 
work of reform prospered greatly during the year 
1829. tt Churches and societies were organized, and 
circuits were formed in many parts of the country, 
although the clerical itinerants labored hard to stifle 
inquiry and arrest the efforts of the advocates of 
mutual rights. In some places some of the best 
and most efficient of traveling ministers were 
understood to be on the side of reform, and when 



the conventional articles began to be adopted by 
the people, and calls were made for ministers, such 
preachers promptly responded to the Macedonian 
call, dissolved their connection with the M. E. 
Church, and enlisted themselves under the banners 
of the new organization. 

We shall here introduce a letter from the Rev. 
George Brown, of the Pittsburg Conference, who 
had long been known as a decided advocate of 
reform, to the presiding elder of his district. 

Pittsburg, Pa., June 3, 1829. 

My Dear Brother Eddy, — The time has now 
arrived for me to follow my principles as a reformer, 
or abandon them. I have taken time and written 
extensively to the reformers, and particularly to the 
members of the late convention in Baltimore, and 
am now satisfied as to the objectionable articles. 
They and all the rest were well meant, and for the 
present may be useful; and for my own part I do not 
entertain a single doubt that the convention of 1S30 
will construct a system of ecclesiastical govern- 
ment which will be in all respects perfectly conge- 
nial with republican principles and feelings. 

My feeble services have been called for in four 
different directions. The brethren of three out of 
four desired me to be in readiness against a certain 
time, but the fourth was a call that would admit of 
no delay. Being unablo to ascertain where a com- 
munication would find you on your district, and 
being much pressed with other business about the 


time I left New Lisbon, I have delayed until now 
to inform you, as my presiding elder, that on last 
Sabbath my labors in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church were brought to a final close. I have many 
valuable friends in the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
in the ministry and among the members. I now, 
as heretofore, testify my affection for the doctrines, 
class meetings, love-feasts, moral discipline, sacra- 
ments, and itinerancy of the church. But the 
government I do most conscientiously disapprove ; 
and since all hope of change is now cut off; and 
since the brethren who were expelled, in part on 
my account, cannot honorably return; and since a 
new church had to be formed ; I have deemed 
myself bound by all the principles of Christian 
honor to go with the reformers. You will not 
understand me to have one unloving sentiment or 
feeling about my soul in reference to you. No, my 
brother ; nor have I any in reference to a single 
individual this day on earth. I love my God. I 
love his people of every name. I desire the happi- 
ness of all the human race. I go with the reformers 
because I love their principles ; and my prayer to 
the s;reat and glorious Lord of the whole creation 
is that they may universally prevail ! 

With great respect, I am, &c. 

Geo. Brown. 
Rev. Ira Eddy, P. E. O. District. 

The reformers in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, had 
been soliciting the Rev. Mr. Brown to come to that 


city and take charge of tbem as an Associated 
Methodist Church ; and prior to the date of the 
letter addressed to the Rev. Mr. Eddy, the presid- 
ing elder, he had adopted the resolution of yielding 
to their call, and casting in his lot among them. 
His letter of response, to the committee that were 
appointed to correspond with him, seems to breathe 
such a spirit, and teems with such information, that 
it cannot fail to interest. We subjoin a copy. 

New Lisbon, May 27, 1829. 

Dear Brethren, — Your second communication 
has been received, and I hasten to inform you that 
on next Sabbath I close my labors for ever in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. I had supposed my- 
self already done, and had fixed on this morning to 
set off for Pittsburg; but by an importunity that I 
could not resist, on the part of some of the brethren 
and other friendly citizens, I have been overcome. 
I love this people ; they have evinced a friendship 
for me and mine, during my residence among them, 
that has made me greatly their debtor; and besides, 
they are nearly all reformers, so far as they under- 
stand the subject ; and they desire me to state my 
reasons on Sunday for leaving the old establish- 
ment. This, through divine help, I design doing, 
in the close of my second sermon, in as clear and 
candid a manner as possible. 

There is another consideration of some moment. 
Mrs. Brown's health is still very feeble ; but, thank 
God, it improves a little; and against next week J 
can in all probability leave home with more pro- 


priety than now. I shall be off on Monday next, 
God willing, and shall probably be with you on 
Tuesday night. I have just received a letter from 
brother Shinn, inviting me to Cincinnati to form a 
circuit round that city. He assures me, on good 
authority, that a good circuit could be formed in a 
very little time. I have also received official in- 
formation from Ohio Circuit, stating that they go at 
the end of this conference year, and will take no 
more preachers from the old side. They have 
asked me to come over and help them. 

I have just received another private communi- 
cation from circuit, calling for help. 

The " divinely authorized " have forbidden a very 
respectable local preacher, whom no threats could 
terrify into silence, the occupancy of some of the 
pulpits ; and the brethren think this is as proper a 
time as any to be off. The circuit is large, say one 
thousand strong, and it is thought a majority of them 
are reformers. The letter stated that the conven- 
tional articles, though somewhat objectionable, 
would be adopted for the present. If we can only 
get a constitution formed on purely republican 
principles, under the blessing of our glorious Lord, 
we shall abundantly succeed with a liberty loving 
2>enple. I think the day may yet come when we, 
who are only becoming a people, shall sit under our 
own vine and fig tree, eating the pleasant fruit 
of ecclesiastical liberty, none daring to make us 
afraid. Our opposing brethren, from the bishops 
down, have done all they could to crush the Mutual 


Rights ; but surely they have failed of success. 
Much less will they be able to withstand us when 
our preacners go in person preaching the same gos- 
pel, carrying with them the same moral rules of 
holy living, giving the people an itinerant ministry, 
love-feasts, class-meetings, and distributing our prin- 
ciples of government in pamphlets as they go. 
Ours is the glorious cause of ecclesiastical emancipa- 
tion, and has no enemies in America save on the old 
side ; and I greatly miss my guess if the very means 
which they have employed, and are now employing 
against us and our cause, do not ultimately help in 
many ways. 

Give my love to all the holy brethren of the like 
precious faith with ourselves, and tell them that I 
desire an interest in their prayers. I am a frail 
child of the dust. I tremble much at the vastness 
of our undertaking. Our only help is in the strong 
God of Zion. He inhabits eternity, but his eye is 
fixed on the truth and him who loves it, however 
poor he may be. Him I love, and do most ardently 
long for that perfect liberty from sin which he alone 
can give ; and I do most cordially believe that we 
need not remain in ecclesiastical bondage in order 
to enjoy this "glorious liberty of the sons of God." 
Very affectionately yours, &c. 

George Brown. 

Mr. W. Stevenson, } 
" S. Remington, > Committee. 
" C. Craig, ) 


The subject of reform, during 1829, extended as 
far north as Boston, and secessions from the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church, and organizations under 
the conventional articles of association, took place 
in New York and New England. Revivals of reli- 
gion attended the labors of the ministry of the newly 
organized church in many places. The " Mutual 
Rights and Christian Intelligencer" of this year 
says, " It affords no small gratification and comfort 
to receive such assurances of the divine favor and 
blessing as our infant Zion is realizing in different 
parts of the country. After a long and fiery trial, 
hundreds who have endured with patience, and 
stood firm to their purpose, are beginning to see the 
fruit of their labor. Surely if heaven's smiles are 
to be received as evidence that a people is right, 
this people is right. Would the Lord own and 
bless the labors of apostates in this gracious manner ? 
The work is spreading in Maryland, New York, 
New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylva- 
nia, and several other places; and the Lord is add- 
ing to the associated churches daily such as give 
evidence that they have passed from death unto 
life, and some who promise great usefulness to the 

The labors of the Rev. Alexander McCaine, 
traveling agent in the south, were of eminent service 
in the cause of reform. His letters to the " Mutual 
Rights and Christian Intelligencer" are highly 
interesting. In his close of a series he sums up in 
these words : 


" And as this is the last of the series, before I 
close it I will be allowed to sum up in a few words 
an account of ray labors in the cause of reform. 
It was nearly nine months since I first left home 
until my return at Christmas. In that time 1 trav- 
eled from the mountains to the sea-board in Vir- 
ginia, crossed North Carolina four times, and was 
in South Carolina twice. Wherever I preached 
I had far larger congregations than I used to have 
when I was an itinerant preacher in the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. I felt, blessed be God, as much 
of the comforts of religion in my own soul, and saw 
as much of the divine presence among the congre- 
gations, as I generally did in former years. I have 
received, wherever I went, far more respectful at- 
tention than I ever received in the old church. I 
have convened with the high and the low, the rich 
and the poor ; and have conversed with all ranks 
in the community, from the governor down to the 
day laborer; with judges, lawyers, doctors, legisla- 
tors, ministers, magistrates, merchants, mechanics, 
farmers, &c. &c, on the subject of reform, and 
have not, in all my travels, or among all those with 
whom I have conversed, ever found one man who 
did not say reformers are right, and that their cause 
must finally prevail. Amen and amen. 

" Alexander McCaine." 



Organization of the North Carolina Conference. — Adoption of the 
Constitution and Discipline. — Persecution of reformers in West- 
ern Carolina. — Expulsion of Rev. Travis Jones. — Organization 
of Associated Methodist Churches and rapid spread of reform 
principles in that part of the state. — Statistical table of the min- 
isters and laymen expelled for their principles of reform in the 
United States. — First Virginia Annual Conference. — Pennsyl- 
vania, Alabama and Georgia Conferences. — Adoption of the 
conventional articles by a body of Methodist Societies in W. 
New York and organization of the Genesee Conference. — 
Veimont and Tennessee Conferences. — General Convention of 
1830. — Constitution and Discipline adopted. 

The Baltimore convention closed its session on 
the 22d November, 1S28. The proscribed and 
expelled reformers in North Carolina had looked 
to the result of its deliberations with anxious solici- 
tude; scattered and peeled as they had been, and 
proscribed by the " divinely authorized" they had 
hoped that by the labors of the convention a plat- 
form would be arranged upon which they could 
rally. Their hopes were not disappointed. 

The expelled and withdrawn ministers who had 
suffered prosecution for opinion's sake, concern- 
ing church polity alone, met together in Annual 
Conference at Whitaker's chapel, Halifax county, 
on the 19th of December of this year. 

They were met by delegates elected and deputed 
by the laity to represent them in the deliberations 
of the conference. 


They organized by the election of Rev. E. B. 
Whitaker, president pro tern., and Rev. Miles Nash, 

The conference was composed of eight ministers, 
five licensed preachers and twelve lay delegates. 
Seven of these eight ministers present had been 
expelled from the M. E. Church without any charge 
of immorality being exhibited against them. The 
other minister, Rev. W. W. Hill, had been tried by 
a committee on account of his principles as an ad- 
vocate of mutual rights, and acquitted. 

Every member of this conference had belonged 
to the Roanoke Union Society except the five 
licensed preachers. 

The ministers that composed this, the first North 
Carolina Conference, were Rev. James Hunter, 
Rev. E. B. Whitaker, Rev. William Bellamy, Rev. 
Henry Bradford, Rev. Miles Nash, Rev. William 
Price, Rev. William W. Hill, and Rev. Abriton 

Owing to the early meeting of this conference 
after the rise of the Baltimore convention, and the 
consequent shortness of the notice given, the mem- 
bers of the Granville Union Society were not able 
to make the arrangements to attend, or elect their 
delegates to represent them in that body. 

The "preamble, articles of association and reso- 
lutions, as adopted by the convention at Baltimore," 
were taken up and considered by this conference, 
and unanimously adopted. 

The conference made arrangements to bring into 


the most effective action the labors of its ministers. 
Three circuits were formed, and ministers assigned 
to the superintendency of the same. The Rev. 
W. W. Hill was appointed an agent to travel 
throughout the state. 

The friends of reform had now a star of hope to 
illumine their path. The articles of association 
were embraced by them as a bond of union, and 
churches and societies of much strength, respecta- 
bility and influence, were formed in the eastern 
part of Carolina, despite the efforts of the votaries 
of clerical supremacy. 

The second session of the North Carolina Confer- 
ence was held at Sampson's meeting house, on the 
2d of April, 1S29. At the opening of this session, 
several ministers gave in their names and were 
received as members of the body who had not had 
an opportunity of attending the first session. Ar- 
rangements were made at this conference for a 
more extended plan of operations. A fourth circuit 
was added to the previous number. 

But the hand of persecution for opinion's sake 
had not yet been stayed. A short time prior to this 
period the Rev. James Hunt, who had previously 
been arraigned for belonging to the Granville Union 
Society, was again summoned to trial, and expelled 
from the Methodist Episcopal Church upon the 
charge that he had invited one of the ministers who 
was laboring in the cause of reform, to preach at 
one of his appointments, and that invitation had 
been accepted. 
— - 55.^ 


In the western part of Carolina the Rev. Mr. 
Merriwether, superintendent of the Guilford Cir- 
cuit, began to distinguish himself by his zeal in 
executing the reformers upon the Guilford Circuit. 
In the month of April of this year, 1829, after 
having preached at Moriah in Guilford county, the 
congregation beins; dismissed, he took one of the 
brethren, Col. William Gilbreath, aside, and upon 
inquiring of the brother, and learning that he was 
a patron and reader of the "Mutual Rights and 
Christian Intelligencer," this clerical lord over 
God's heritage in a most dictatorial manner told 
brother Gilbreath that he " must neither patronize 
nor read the ' Mutual Rights.' " To which the 
brother responded, " What I buy and pay for is my 
own, and I will read as I please" But the reverend 
gentleman, feeling strong no doubt in his "little 
brief authority" brought his arguments to a close 
by the adoption of language better suited to the 
latitude of Rome than it was to Carolina, and in a 
most consequential manner told brother Gilbreath, 
"I will give you four weeks to consider about quilting 
the '"Mutual Rights,'' and if by that time you do not 
discontinue it, I will have you excelled from the church" 
The reply to this proffered alternative is character- 
istic of the honest simplicity and native indepen- 
dence of the man ; " You need not give me five minutes, 
for I will read, and also circulate it, if any body else 
wants to read the work." 

Brother Gilbreath, feeling alarmed for the rights 
of himself and brethren as Christians, gave them 


due notice of the menacing attitude their pastor 
had assumed towards himself and them, and a meet- 
ing of the church was called in order to consult 
upon the proper course to be pursued. The meet- 
ing took place on the 7th of May, just two weeks 
after brother Gilbreath had been notified to discon- 
tinue the "Mutual Rights." The meeting was or- 
ganized by calling the Rev. John Coe to the chair, 
and the appointment of Joseph Gilbreath secretary. 
The president opened the meeting by an address 
to the throne of grace. 

On motion, the following brethren, Jesse Ives, 
William Heath, John Hinkman, James Hendrix 
and William Gilbreath, were appointed a com- 
mittee, who submitted the following preamble, and 
resolutions, which were read, examined and adopted 
by the meeting. 

"Whereas it is the undoubted right of all free- 
men peaceably to assemble and freely to declare 
their sentiments on the conduct of their ecclesiasti- 
cal as well as civil rulers; — and whereas, when 
the General Conference were petitioned to give up 
the dangerous power which they had assumed, they 
refused to do it, and professed that they were the 
divinely instituted authority to make, alter and en- 
force the laws of the church, and have denied us 
the liberty of the press and the freedom of speech ; 
and the preacher in charge of this circuit having ex- 
pressed a determination to prefer charges against 
all the members who circulate the ' Mutual Rights 
and Christian Intelligencer,' or propagate the prin- 


ciples of reform therein supported, which this meet- 
ing believe to be reasons sufficient to justify the 
adoption of the following resolutions : Therefore, 

" Resolved, 1st. That this meeting highly disap- 
prove of the government of the M. E. Church, so 
far as it respects the unlimited control of the itiner- 
ant preachers over the church; believing it to be 
contrary to the rules laid down by our Saviour in 
the New Testament, and practiced upon by his 
apostles after his ascension to glory, and contrary 
to our federal and state constitutions. 

"Resolved, 2. That we consider it a duty which 
we owe to ourselves and our posterity, to withdraw 
from the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

" Resolved, 3. Thafthe articles of association of 
the Associated Methodist Churches be adopted, 
and we do hereby form ourselves into a society 
under their regulations. 

"Resolved, 4. That this meeting receive the Rev. 
John Coe, local elder, and Isaac Coe, licensed 
preacher, into our church, in the same standing 
which they had in the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
as ministers, with the same offices and privileges." 

This church thus organized, consisted of thirty- 
four members: and when the Rev. Mr. Merriwether 
returned at the end of his '■'■four weeks," he found 
that but two of all his flock at Moriah, were left in 
the pales of the M. E. Church. The Rev. John 
Coe accepted the invitation and charge of the 
church, and prosperity attended the labors of this 
faithful minister of Christ. This was the first As- 


sociated Methodist Church in Western Carolina, 
and the influence which it has exerted, and the 
beneficial results produced thereby in furtherance 
of the principles of Methodist Protestantism, have 
been vast indeed. 

But the Rev. Mr. Merriwether was not willing to 
stop here. Having ascertained that the Rev. Travis 
Jones, an aged local minister within his charge, 
was a patron and reader of the " Mutual Rights and 
Christian Intelligencer," he proceeded to summon 
him to trial in due form, alleging no charges of im- 
morality against him — no allegations, save those of 
patronizing and reading that religious periodical. 
The committee sat, Mr. Merriwether presided, and 
Rev. Travis Jones, orthodox in doctrine, unblem- 
ished in reputation, was expelled from the M. E. 

This high-handed measure produced deep dis- 
satisfaction in the church at Bethel, in the vicinity 
of Rev. Mr. Jones ; this church was composed of a 
numerous society, highly respectable for its piety, 
numbers and influence; but seeing brother Jones 
stricken down so unjustly by the hand of arbitrary 
power, from his ministerial functions, without the 
semblance of error" on his part, this whole church 
(with one or two exceptions) withdrew in a body 
and united with the reformers. Indeed Mr. Merri- 
wether seems to have been quite an adept in the 
science of making reformers in little time. But the 
zeal for proscribing brethren for opinion's sake car- 
ried the Rev. Mr. Merriwether farther still, and he 


visited a neighboring circuit, and at a two days' 
meeting on that circuit undertook to expose, as he 
affected to believe, the errors and mischievous ten- 
dency of the conduct and the course pursued by 
the " radicals" as he was pleased to call them. 
His object appeared to be to incite a spirit of hos- 
tility against the reformers generally, and those 
composing the church at Moriah particularly. A 
camp-meeting soon came on in this part of the 
country, and some official brethren, who had re- 
cently attended a Quarterly Meeting Conference 
among the reformers at Moriah, were in attendence, 
who soon understood that this act of attending a 
meeting among their Christian friends had rendered 
them obnoxious in the sight of their itinerant rulers. 
Among the itinerants at this meeting, that noted 
leader in proscriptive rudeness, the Rev. Benjamin 
Edge, who had been so severely scathed by the 
defence of Rev. W. W. Hill, in August, 1825, made 
his appearance. His feelings towards the reformers 
had undergone no change for the better. 

As Quarterly Conference was to be held in con- 
nection with the camp- meeting, a brother, Alexan- 
der Robbins, came up recommended for license to 
preach, but as he had been to a meeting among the 
reformers, he was looked upon as one of the "birds 
hi strange feathers." One of the preachers under- 
standing that bro. Robbins was desirous to discon- 
tinue the " Christian Advocate " and to take the 
"Mutual Rights and Christian Intelligencer," in 
order to hear both sides of the question, endeav- 


ored to dissuade him from such a step; and pro- 
posed to him to patronize the paper called the 
" Itinerant" promising at the same time that he 
should have it gratis, provided he did not patronize 
the "Mutual Rights." At this stage of the contro- 
versy, the Rev. B. Edge addressing himself to Mr. 
Robbins remarked, "I have said that j r ou were on 
the way to join the reformers, as I have heard that 
you have been to a meeting among the 'Rads? " 
To which Mr. Robbins replied, " I have, but what 
of that?" 

Benjamin Edge. We will cut down every man 
that will associate with that people. 

A. Robbins. But have you a right to cut them 
down if their conduct is upright and their characters 
stand fair? 

B. Edge. Yes, we have; for who can walk 
among the pots without getting smutted ? These 
schismatics are a bad people. 

A. Robbins. If you intend to cut down and de- 
stroy the influence of every man for no other cause 
than visiting his religious friends, I will belong to 
no such a party; and I do therefore declare that I 
am no longer a member of the M. E. Church. 

Of the conduct of the Rev. Mr. Edge we will 
leave the reader to form his own opinion. We 
regret, deeply regret, on account of the ministerial 
office, that it is so deficient of the spirit and sanc- 
tity of religion. Mr. Robbins made no effort at 
this meeting to obtain preacher's license, but having 
a consultation with Rev. John Wilburn and Rev^ 


Alson Gray, local preachers, and relating to them 
the declarations set forth by Mr. Edge, they also 
resolved to withdraw from the M. E. Church. 
They accordingly designated the following Saturday 
as the time for meeting, to organize themselves into 
an Associated Methodist Church under the conven- 
tional articles. The meeting was held and a church 
of sixteen members was formed, called Liberty, 
including four local preachers. This church soon 
rapidly increased in membership, and prosperity 
has continued to mark her progress up to the pre- 
sent period. To these three churches of which we 
have spoken, Moriah, Bethel and Liberty, may be 
attributed the rise and formation of six circuits in 
Western Carolina, numbering upwards of two 
thousand members. 

Through the indefatigable labors of Rev. Alson 
Gray, the principles of mutual rights were speedily 
disseminated in this part of Carolina, and many 
churches organized. An account of one of the 
churches organized by that minister, is worthy of a 
place in this history. 

At Sandy Ridge, Guilford county, he organized 
a class of three ladies — Mrs. Lindsay and Mrs. Anna 
and Harriet Chipman. The place of worship at 
that time was in a small dilapidated school house. 
For twelve months did this little band of pious 
females stand alone. Gloomy indeed appeared the 
prospect. But they fainted not nor despised the 
day of small things. At length a revival of religion 
broke out; their numbers were increased and the 


star of pjpsperity began to shine upon their path. 
In 1844 this society numbered upwards of one 
hundred and seventy members, and has since had 
a respectable increase. 

In summing up an account of the excommunica- 
tions which took place in Carolina, it appears that 
the following ministers of the gospel were expelled 
from the M. E. Church on account of their opinions 
with regard to the polity of the church, viz: Revs. 
James Hunter, Henry Bradford, William Bellamy, 
E. B. Whitaker, William Price, Miles Nash, Albrit- 
on Jones, C. Drake, J. Swift, S. Swift, H. Tar- 
kington, R. Davison, James Hunt, Travis Jones. 

Among the laity it appears that not more than 
eight suffered excommunication on account of their 
reform principles. The proscription of all these 
ministers and laymen appears to have met the ap- 
probation and concurrence of the Quarterly and 
Annual Conferences having cognizance of the 
actions of the principal administrators of discipline. 

In the State of Maryland, as we gather from the 
documents and publications extant, thirteen minis- 
ters and twenty-two laymen were expelled for the 
same causes as the above. * 

In Cincinnati four ministers or preachers and ten 

In Lynchburg two ministers and nine laymen, 
and in Northumberland, Va., one minister and eight 

*See Mutual Rights, vol. ili, p. 129. 


In Tennessee fifteen official members of the 
church were publicly read out, a number of which 
were ministers and preachers. 

The case of the expulsions in the last named 
state was carried up to the Annual Conference, 
and that body not only reversed the decision had 
against these reformers in the tribunals below, but 
passed resolutions censuring the conduct of the pre- 
siding elder, the Rev. James Gwynn, through 
whose agency and action they had been expelled. 

The action of the Tennessee Annual Conference 
in this case materially differs from that of the Vir- 
ginia and Baltimore Conferences. Appeals of a 
similar nature, involving the same principles and 
rights, were carried up to them, but in both instances 
the administrations of the men in power were 

The following table affords something like a sta- 
tistical account of the expelled ministers and mem- 
bers that were excluded from the M. E. Church 
during the agitation of the subject of reform. 

In Maryland, of the ministry, . 

. . 13 — of the laity, . . 


" N. Carolina, " . . 

. . 14—" " 


. 8 

" Cincinnati, " . . 

. . 4—" « 



" Lynchburg, Va., " . . 

. . 2—" " 



"Northumberland, Va.," . . 

. . 1—" " 


. 8 

" Tennessee, " . . 

. . 5—" " 



Total ministers 39 

total laity 


Sum total 106. 

If we take into the account the five churches 
struck off from the Roanoke Circuit in Carolina, 


containing nearly one hundred members in the 
aggregate, the number is greatly increased. 

The first Virginia Annual Conference was organ- 
ized under the conventional articles of association 
at Lynchburg, June 1st, 1S29. The conference 
was composed of the following ministers, viz : Rev. 
A. McCaine, Rev. J. B. Tilden, Rev. G. Reed, 
Rev. Miles King, Rev. B. G. Burgess, Rev. Wm. 
Pinnell, Rev. Benedict Burgess, Sr., Rev. Richard 
Latimore, Rev. W. H. Comann, Rev. Dr. J. French, 
and Rev. John Percival.* The Rev. Alexander 
McCaine was elected president. The district was 
laid off' into eight circuits, and the ministers were 
appointed to their respective charges or fields of 

October the 8th of this year an Annual Confer- 
ence of Associated Methodist Churches was organ- 
ized at Philadelphia, " composed of ministers, 
preachers, and lay delegates from Pennsylvania, 
Delaware, New Jersey, and western section of the 
State of New York. Eighteen ordained ministers 
and fifteen licensed preachers and lay brethren 
composed the conference. The Rev. John Smith, 
of Delaware, an old and highly respected minister, 
was elected president." t This conference laid off 
its fields of labor into fifteen different charges. 

On the 2d of April the Maryland Conference of 
Associated Methodists met in the city of Baltimore. 

*The names of the lay delegates are not recorded in this work, 
f See " Mutual Rights and Christian Intelligencer " for October 
20th, 1829. 


Twenty ordained ministers and twenty-six lay dele- 
gates were in attendance. During the session six 
deacons were ordained to the office of elder, and 
also six licentiates were ordained to deacon's orders. 
The Rev. Nicholas Snethen was elected president. 
At the ensuing session this conference made a 
return of about 2,000 members. 


Extract of a letter from Rev. Peyton Bibb, pub- 
lished in the " Mutual Rights and. Christian Intelli- 
gencer," dated Alabama, May 15th, 1829. 

"Our Annual Conference for South Alabama met 
on the 1st instant. It was attended by sixteen 
preachers, who joined the reform churches under 
the articles of association ; and there were two 
others whose ideas of reform extended further than 
the articles appear to go. They did not join, but 
are willing to assist us with their labors. There 
were four others who sent in their names as re- 
formers. The first business was to call a meeting 
of the Union Society and read the articles of asso- 
ciation, which were adopted, and the society dis- 
solved. The conference then convened, and after 
appointing the Rev. Britton Copel their president, 
proceeded to lay off the work among the preachers. 
They appointed another conference to be held in 
the latter part of the year. Peace and love crowned 
our meeting." 

This conference, at its second session, held Sep- 
tember 16th, 1830, reported 881 members. 


The first Annual Conference of the Associated 
Methodist Churches, for the State of Georgia, was 
held in Newton county, on the 22d of July, 1S30. 
The conference was organized by the election of 
Rev. Eppes Tucker, president, and Harrison Jones, 
secretary. The following ministers were regarded 
as members of this conference: — Revs. Eppes 
Tucker, Aaron G. Brewer, Jesse Morris, R. W. W, 
Wynne, Jas. Lowery, R. P. Ward, Ethel Tucker, 
Robert Walker, Chas. Williamson, Harrison Jones, 
John A. Russell, Robert McCorkle, Thomas Gard- 
ner, Henry Saxon, B. Swearingen, James Hodge, 
Abraham Lucas, William Pentecost, J. R. Swain, 
C. P. Witherspoon. 

- Twelve lay delegates were in attendance as 
members of this conference, representing the mem- 
bership. The conference laid off the district into 
eleven circuits or fields of labor and one mission. 
The Rev. A. G. Brewer was appointed conference 

An account of the earlier proceedings of the 
friends of mutual rights in Georgia, though some- 
what out of order as to rotation of dates, will not be 
uninteresting to the reader. The following, from 
the "Mutual Rights and Christian Intelligencer," is 
from the pen of the Rev. A. G. Brewer: 

" The first organization of reformers in this State 

took place in 1S27, under the Discipline of the 

Methodist Society. The number in the societies 

was about seventy. Their number became a little 



impaired by reason of the difficulties they had to 
encounter, both by persecution and the want of suf- 
ficient ministerial help ; but. they, nevertheless, re- 
tained upwards of sixty members. Early in the 
year 1829 they adopted the ' Conventional Articles 
of the Associated Methodist Churches,' and have 
had some little increase since. But the spirit 
of reform was not confined to this despised few; 
many in the State, in different counties, were ex- 
amining the principles and vindicating the rights 
of the local ministers and lay members to a seat in 
the legislative department of the church of God. 
And within nine months last past they have organ- 
ized ten or twelve churches under the conventional 
articles, and are rapidly increasing. They now 
number about three hundred in this State. There 
are at least sixteen preachers, and the number is 
increasing. The excitement spreads just in pro- 
portion to the spread of information on the subject 
of the pending controversy between us and the 
' old side church.' For so soon as the people are 
made acquainted with the just claims of the re- 
formers, and the treatment they have received from 
the ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
(the ' divinely authorized expounders,' as they are 
pleased to call themselves,) they are our decided 
friends, and concede the rights we claim. 

" I presume the work will spread much more 
rapidly after our conference and camp-meeting than 
it has yet done, as the conference will undoubtedly 
be able to give a greater extent of privileges to the 


churches, by enlarging the field of labor of the 
preachers. In fine, our prospects are good, and 
nothing can prevent our success but a want of 
faithfulness to God. May the Fountain of good- 
ness help us in this struggle for an ecclesiastical 

" Truly and sincerely yours, in Christian liberty, 

"Aaron G. Brewer. 

" Georgia, April 16th, 1830." 

Early in the year 1830 a body of Methodists who 
had been organized as a distinct ecclesiastical body 
in western New York, and had formed an Annual 
Conference embracing about twehly-rlve ministers 
and preachers, and between four and five hundred 
members, adopted the conventional articles of the 
Associated Methodist Churches, and fell into line 
with the reformers. The appellation by which this 
religious fraternity had heretofore been known was 
the Methodist Society. An account of this transac- 
tion is given in the "Mutual Rights and Christian 
Intelligencer" in the following words, by the secre- 
tdivy of the first Annual Conference, the Rev. O. 
Miller : 

" The Rochester Annual Conference of the Meth- 
odist Society held its session in Ontario, Wayne- 
county, commencing on the 13th inst, (February,) 
and having closed the ordinary business, the con- 
ference resolved itself into committee of the whole 
on the following question : 

" 'Shall we adopt the conventional articles of the 
Associated Methodist Churches ?' 


" After considerable discussion and mature de- 
liberation — although there were some of the articles 
which to us were somewhat objectionable, yet from 
our knowledge of the sentiments of our reforming 
brethren, as stated and ably defended in the ' Mu- 
tual Rights,' being convinced that their sentiments 
on ecclesiastical government were in unison with 
ours, and possessing the fullest confidence in their 
intelligence, piety, experience and talents, and pre- 
suming that the convention of 1S30 will possess 
sufficient wisdom to correct any improprieties of the 
present articles — the conference adopted all the 
articles so far as they are not opposed to the Con- 
stitution of the Methodist Society, and resolved 
itself into a conference, under the title of the Gen- 
esee Conference of the Associated Methodist 
Churches ; and proceeded to elect five delegates 
to attend the convention in Baltimore, in November 

The conference elected the Rev. J. Covel presi- 
dent, and laid off its district into seventeen fields 
of labor or circuits. 

The first Annual Conference for the State of 
Vermont met, and was organized under the con- 
ventional articles of association, at Shelburn, on 
the 19th of February, 1S30. The Rev. Luther 
Chamberlain was elected president, and C. Walker 
secretary. This conference was composed of five 
ministers and five lay delegates. The ministers 
were Rev. Luther Chamberlain, Rev. Nathaniel 


Gage, Rev. Chandler Walker, Rev. David Ferris, 
Rev. Thomas A. Carpenter. 

The respective Annual Conferences which were 
organized up to the latter part of 1830 elected their 
delegates to represent them in the general conven- 
tion which was to meet in Baltimore, on the 2d of 
November, in this year. 

The first conference for the State of Tennessee 
was held in Bedford county, October, 1829. The 
writer has been unable to obtain a copy of its trans- 
actions, consequently he is unable to say any thing 
more with regard to its organization. 


On the 2d of November, 1830, the general con- 
vention met in the city of Baltimore. This body 
was composed of eighty-three ministerial and lay 
delegates, and was organized by the election of 
Francis Waters, D. D., president, and Rev. Wm. 
C. Lipscomb secretary. The committee which had 
been appointed at the convention of 182S to draft a 
Constitution and Discipline, made their report by 
reading the "draft of aConstitution and Discipline."* 
After minutely and carefully investigating the drafts 
presented, and making some small alterations, the 
present most excellent Constitution and Discipline, 
as it is found in the edition of 1830, were adopted. 

The convention adopted the following preamble 
and elementary principles by which the Constitution 
stands prefaced : 

* See Williams's History of the M. P. Church, page 301. 


We, the representatives of the Associated Meth- 
odist Churches, in general convention assembled, 
acknowledging the Lord Jesus Christ as the only 
Head of the church, and the word of God as the 
sufficient rule of faith and practice in all things per- 
taining to godliness ; and being fully persuaded 
that the representative form of church government 
is the most scriptural, best suited to our condition, 
and most congenial to our views and feelings as 
fellow citizens with the saints, and of the house- 
hold of God : and whereas a written Constitution, 
establishing the form of government, and securing 
to the ministers and members of the church their 
rights and privileges, is the best safeguard of Chris- 
tian liberty ; we, therefore, trusting in the protection 
of Almighty God, and acting in the name and by 
the authority of our constituents, do ordain and 
establish and agree to be governed by the following 
elementary principles and Constitution : 

1. A Christian church is a society of believers in 
Jesus Christ, and is of divine institution. 

2. Christ is the only Head of the church ; and the 
word of God the only rule of faith and conduct. 

3. No person who loves the Lord Jesus Christ 
and obeys the gospel of God our Saviour ought to 
be deprived of church membership. 

4. Every man has an inalienable right to private 
judgment in matters of religion, and an equal right 
to express his opinion in any way which will not 
violate the laws of God or the rights of his fellow 


5. Church trials should be conducted on gospel 
principles only; and no minister or member should 
be excommunicated except for immoralit}", the 
propagation of unchristian doctrines, or for the 
neglect of duties enjoined by the word of God. 

6. The pastoral or ministerial office and duties 
are of divine appointment, and all elders in the 
church of God are equal ; but ministers are for- 
bidden to be lords over God's heritage, or to have 
dominion over the faith of the saints. 

7. The church has a right to form and enforce 
such rules and regulations only as are in accord 
ance with the holy Scriptures, and may be neces- 
sary or have a tendency to carry into effect the 
great system of practical Christianity. 

8. Whatever power may be necessary to the 
formation of rules and regulations is inherent in the 
ministers and members of the church ; but so much 
of that power may be delegated, from time to time, 
upon a plan of representation, as they may judge 
necessary and proper. 

9. It is the duty of all ministers and members 
of the church to maintain godliness and to oppose 
all moral evil. 

10. It is obligatory on ministers of the gospel to 
be faithful in the discharge of their pastoral and 
ministerial duties ; and it is also obligatory on the 
members to esteem ministers highly for their work's 
sake, and to render them a righteous compensation 
for their labors. 


II. The church ought to secure to all her official 
bodies the necessary authority tor the purposes of 
good government; but she has no right to create 
any distinct or independent sovereignties. 

These elementary principles embrace what the 
reformers, whilst within the pales of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, had petitioned and contended 
for, and for which they had suffered persecution, 
proscription and expulsion ; and the Constitution 
was carefully drawn so as not to conflict with those 

It will be unnecessary to embody the Constitu- 
tion in the plan of this work, inasmuch as that in- 
strument has been so generally read and examined 
by all who have perused the Discipline of the Meth- 
odist Protestant Church. In the first article of the 
Constitution the title of the church is given in these 
words : " This association shall be denominated 
The Methodist Protestant Church, comprising 
the Associated Methodist Churches." 

The members of this communion, whilst within 
the pales of the Methodist Episcopal Church, had 
by their writings, their essays, their memorials, their 
remonstrances, and their acts, protested against the 
governmental policy of that church, but never 
against her doctrines ; and in adopting a name by 
which the church was to be known among her 
sister churches, the convention chose the above title 
as expressive of the principles of her ecclesiastical 


The Constitution of the Methodist Protestant 
Church is justly entitled to the admiration of every 
lover of mutual rights. It secures to the ministry 
and membership all that is scripturally and legiti- 
mately their right. It serves as a barrier to pre- 
vent the one from encroaching upon the preroga- 
tives of the other, and is a beautiful exempliBcation 
of church polity for which the reformers had been 
contending, and for which they had suffered so 
much contumely and reproach. One of the articles 
of the Constitution, which makes provision for 
altering the same, may not perhaps be improperly 
inserted here, inasmuch as one item has been 
amended or altered since its adoption. 

" Art. 16. — Provisions for altering the Constitution. 
1. The General Conference shall have power to 
amend any part of this constitution except the 
second, tenth and fourteenth articles, by making 
alterations or additions, as maybe recommended in 
writing, by two-thirds of the whole number of the 
Annual Conferences next preceding the sitting of 
the General Conference. 

"2. The second, tenth and fourteenth articles of 
this constitution shall be unalterable, except by a 
general convention called for the special purpose 
by two-thirds of the whole number of the Annual 
Conferences, next preceding the General Confer- 
ence, which convention, and all other conventions 
of this church, shall be constituted and elected in 
the same manner and ratio as prescribed for the 
General Conference. When a General Conference 


is called by the Annual Conference, it shall super- 
sede the assembling of the General Conference for 
that period ; and shall have power to discharge all 
the duties of that body, in addition to the particu- 
lar object for which the convention shall have been 

It will be observed that this article makes provis- 
ion for altering the constitution, and in conformity 
thereto the first section of the eighth article was 
altered at the General Conference of 1838. That 
article required the General Conference to be held 
once in seven years, but it was soon ascertained 
that the interval between the meetings of the Gen- 
eral Conference would be too long, and at a called 
session of the General Conference in 1838, the 
period of meeting was altered lo every fourth year 

The convention likewise passed the following 
resolution : 

" Whereas it is declared b} r this convention that, 
whatever power may be necessary to the formation 
of rules and regulations, is inherent in the minis- 
ters and members of the church ; and that so much 
of that power may be delegated from time to time, 
upon a plan of representation, as they may judge 
proper: therefore, 

"Resolved, That all power not delegated to the 
respective official bodies of the Methodist Protestant 
Church by this convention, are retained to said 
ministers and members." 

The preceding resolution was passed about the 


close of the session, and exhibits in a most striking 
point of view the due regard which the convention 
had for the rights of their constituents. Every 
article they adopted, and every resolution they 
passed, was worthy the wisdom and integrity of 
that body. They had been delegated with authority 
by their Christian brethren to form a constitution, 
not for the convenience of a "privileged few ," but 
for their Christian brethren of the entire church, 
both of the ministry and laity — American Chris- 
tians, who justly appreciated their rights, both civil 
and religious. This convention therefore had the 
enviable satisfaction of presenting to the church, as 
the result of their labors, a constitution which amply 
met the wishes of their constituents, by securing the 
interests of all the parties concerned. 

The hymn book published by John J. Harrod, 
and known by the title of " Associated Methodist 
Hymns," was adopted by the convention to be used 
in the churches until the ensuing General Confer- 
ence. Up to this period the periodical devoted to 
the interests of the reformers or Associated Meth- 
odists, and first called the "Mutual Rights," and 
afterwards the " Mutual Rights and Christian In- 
telligencer," had been published upon the respon- 
sibility of the Baltimore Union Society. This paper 
was transferred by the Union Society to the conven- 
tion, to be conducted under rules and regulations 
prescribed by its authority. Its name was now 
altered from that of " Mutual Rights and Christian 
Intelligencer," to "Mutual Rights and Methodist 


The convention also appointed a book committee, 
consisting of five persons, whose duty it was "to 
select, from time to time, such books, tracts, &c, 
for publication as a majority of them might deem 
proper." A book agent was appointed to publish 
such books, tracts, &c, as might be agreed on by 
the book committee and himself; all of which were 
required to be sold to the conferences, preachers 
and members at wholesale prices. The agent was 
required to make a discount of ten per cent, from 
the wholesale prices on all money paid to him by 
the conferences, preachers and members, which 
ten per cent, was to be paid over to the book com- 
mittee, to be held by them as a book fund for the 
church. A resolution was also adopted, that the 
several Annual Conferences be most earnestly re- 
quested to adopt such measures as in-their wisdom 
they may deem most proper for the purpose of 
creating additional funds, to aid in the establish- 
ment of a book concern by the ensuing General 

The conferences which were represented in, and 
recognized by the convention, were the Vermont, 
the Boston, the New York and Lower Canada, the 
Genesee, the Pennsylvania, the Maryland, the 
Virginia, the North Carolina, the Tennessee, the 
Georgia, and the Ohio; amounting in number to 

From the rise of the convention until the meet- 

* See first edition of the Discipline M. P. Church. 


ing of the General Conference in 1834, the Method- 
ist Protestant Church continued steadily to increase 
in numbers ; although her downfall or dissolution 
was confidently predicted by those who prayed not 
for her prosperity. Some of those foretellers of 
events limited her existence to three years ; others 
to seven; and some few allotted her ten; but it is 
believed that none of these prophets had a perfect 
knowledge of the things whereof they spake, al- 
though they spake as they were moved. 

Julius Caesar once made the remark, that "it is 
very natural for a man to believe that which he 
wishes to take place." Upon this principle, there- 
fore, we may account for the manner in which 
many of the prophecies in regard to the Methodist 
Protestant Church were predicted. After the 
organization of the M. P. Church, it was very 
common for the ministry and membership of that 
communion to be represented by some who were 
to be found in the pales of the old church, as 
"Backsliders," Expelled persons," "Radicals," 
"Restless Spirits;" the community in many places 
were cautioned against them as persons altogether 
unworthy of Christian regard. But wherever the 
causes and principles which led to the formation of 
the M. P. Church were understood amono; other reli- 
gious denominations, she was respected and re- 
garded as a' branch of the church of Christ; and 
probably among all the churches throughout the 
United States, none has manifested a more cour- 
teous, liberal and Christianlike spirit towards this 


young daughter of Zion, than the Presbyterian 

The kindness and courtesy manifested by the 
Presbyterian brethren towards the ministry of the 
M. P. Church, have placed the latter under a last- 
ing debt of gratitude, as well as elevated them- 
selves thereby, in the respect and esteem of the 
latter. Perhaps this was the cause that induced 
the Rev. Cornelius Springer of Ohio, in a speech 
upon the floor of our last General Conference, to 
call the " Presbyterian the most respectable Church in 
the United States." Some member of the body ob- 
jected to the phraseology of the speaker, as it 
seemed to place that church too pre-eminent over 
the other sister churches — the speaker then, with 
that characteristic pleasantness for which he is dis- 
tinguished, transposed the sentiment by changing 
it into this form, "the Presbyterian church, which is 
among the most respectable in the United States." 

They are our friends who cleave to us in the 
day of adversity, and it is but proper and right 
that we should love and appreciate those friends; 
and that we as a church have not been deficient in 
this respect, we think the following anecdote will 
show : A gentleman of the M. E. Church, address- 
ing himself to a lady who was a member of the 
Methodist Protestant Church, remarked, "I under- 
stand, Miss , that the reformers are very fond of 

other denominations." To which she very promptly 
replied, " 1 am happy to inform you, sir, that other 
denominations are very fond of them." 



General Conference of 1834. — General Conference of 1838. — Ex- 
citement in that body upon the subject of Slavery. — General 
Conference of 1842. — General Conference of 1846. — Boundaries 
of the Annual Conferences. — Statistical Table. — Concluding 

The first General Conference of the Methodist 
Protestant Church met in Georgetown, D. C, May 
6th, 1834. The Rev. Nicholas Snethen was elected 
president, and Rev. William C. Lipscomb, secre- 
tary. The operations of the Constitution and Dis- 
cipline had been watched and closely observed 
from their adoption up to this period, (a space of 
nearly four years,) and consequently the General 
Conference was prepared to make such alterations 
as the experience of the past might suggest. 

By a comparison of the edition of the Discipline 
of 1841 with that of 1844, it will be observed that 
some very important changes and improvements 
were made. 

This General Conference recognized fourteen 
Annual Conferences — the Pittsburg Conference 
being set off, constituting one more new conference 
district. The prosperity that had attended the 
labors of the ministry, and the consequent increase 
of numbers or numerical strength, according to the 


statements of the Mutual Rights and Methodist 
Protestant, were greatly encouraging. Opposition 
had generally been thrown in the way of the minis- 
ters of the Methodist Protestant Church, by the 
supporters of the one-man-power system; but the 
truth had been received by many, and embraced by 
such as had the manly independence to think, to 
choose, and act for themselves. The minutes of the 
several Annual Conferences now exhibited the 
membership as 26,587; and the ministers and 
preachers over 500, about one-third of whom were 
in the itinerancy.* This General Conference took 
some preliminary steps in view of the establishment 
of a book concern to belong to the church, but the 
business did not succeed according to the expecta- 
tions of its projectors. 

From the rise of the General Conference of 1834, 
until the sitting of the General Conference of 1838, 
the cause of republican principles of church polity 
was onward. Methodist Protestantism continued to 
spread and her principles to be cherished. Exten- 
sive revivals of religion took place in many confer- 
ences, and large accessions were made to the church, 
although at the sitting of the ensuing General Con- 
ference it was ascertained that the ratio of increase 
(taking the entire connection into the account) had 
been small. But this may be accounted for upon 
the ground that in many places a great declension 
of religion had prevailed, seriously diminishing the 
numbers in other churches. It was during this 

*See Williams's History M. P. Church, page 327. 


period that Methodist Protestantism began to obtain 
a foothold in South Carolina. 

In the year 1834 a difficulty arose in the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church, in the city of Charleston, 
in consequence of the high-handed and arbitrary 
measures of the men in power. The difficulty 
originated between the ministry and the officiary of 
the church with regard to the extent of the rights 
or prerogatives of the latter as trustees. The mat- 
ter was pushed to the most unpleasant extremes, 
and resulted in the expulsion of eight worthy and 
influential members from the church. This pro- 
ceeding was of such a nature as to alarm many of 
the brethren and friends of the expelled with respect 
to their rights as members of the church. Accord- 
ingly about one hundred and fifty withdrew from 
the communion of the M. E. Church, and formed 
themselves into an independent church, and in a 
formal manner adopted the Methodist Protestant 
Discipline. This is an interesting church. Its trials 
have been great, but it has stood firm. Upon their 
organization they found themselves without a house 
of worship, and arrangements were soon made to 
build a suitable church. In the early part of 1835 
the house was finished at a cost of $12,000. In 
the year 1838 the great fire happened in Charles- 
ton, which consumed this beautiful house of wor- 
ship, leaving the society without a place in which to 
worship their God, and a debt of four thousand 
dollars still hanging over them for the house con- 
sumed in the conflagration. But they fainted not 


in the day of adversity. They determined to re- 
build, and appealing to the benevolence of Christian 
friends abroad, they embarked in the effort and 
succeeded in erecting, upon the same spot on which 
the first had stood, another handsome and commo- 
dious church, and at this date are altogether free 
from church debt. Again, in the early part of 1S45 
the course pursued by the minister in charge of this 
station, involved the society in sore and trying diffi- 
culties by his indiscretions; and endeavoring to 
sustain himself in justification of his conduct, he 
formed a small party of adherents, who, upon his 
expulsion from the ministry, retired from the church. 
Again, two superintendents of this church have 
been stricken down by the hand of death within a 
few years, viz: Rev. D. Davis and Rev. William 
H. Bordley, pastors dearly beloved of the flock. 
The history of this church is full of interest. The 
misfortunes and trials it has borne have led many 
to call it the " afflicted church." It has been tried, 
sorely tried, and yet has stood firm. Its materiel 
is made up of sterling spirits, possessing sound 
principles, actuated by the holiest of purposes. 
The writer cannot soon forget the happy hours and 
delightful season of religious enjoyment he realized 
when attending their camp-meeting in 1S45. 


The General Conference of 1838 was a special 
session called by a constitutional majority of the 
Annual Conferences. After the rise of the General 


Conference of 1S34 it was believed by many that the 
interests of the church would be better subserved 
by the meeting of its highest legislative department 
at shorter intervals. The subject was discussed 
by many writers in the church organ, the " Mutual 
Rights and Christian Intelligencer;" and the subject 
coming legally before the respective Annual Con- 
ferences, it was decided that a special session of 
the General Conference should meet in 1S38, and 
delegates were accordingly elected to the same. 

On the 15th of May, 1S3S, the second General 
Conference met at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania ; it was 
composed of fifty-three members, representing fif- 
teen Annual Conferences. 

The following; are the names of the members of 
conference : 

Boston Conference — John McLeish, W. Wyman. 

Vermont Conference — John Croker, A. McLaughlin. 

New York Conference — T. W. Pearson, J. L. Ambler, Win. 
Wood, Wm. Stead. 

Champlain Conference — Nathan Green. 

Genesee Conference — Michael Burge, S. Beecher. 

Pennsylvania Conference — A. Woolson, W. S. Stockton. 

Maryland Conference — Thomas H. Stockton, Luther J. Cox, 
William Kesley, Wm. C. Lipscomb, John Clark, E. Crutchley, 
T. C. Brown, J. S. Zeiber. 

Virginia Conference — Rev. Dr. Finney, J. M. Smith. 

North Carolina Conference — Samuel B. Harris, L. H. B. 

Georgia Conference — R Blount, C. Kennon. 

Alabama Conference — Peyton S. Graves, B. S Bibb. 

Tennessee Conference — R. W. Morris, James L. Armstrong. 

Illinois Conference — Wm. H. Collins, R. A. Shipley. 

Ohio Conference — B. W. Johnston, M. M. Henkle, William 
Disney, S. Bell, J. J. Amos, M. Lyon. 


Pittsburg Conference — A. Shinn, George Brown, J Elliott, 
C. Springer, E Woodward, D B. Dorsey, C. Avery, J. Carey, 
J. Bell, E. Haskins, T. McKeever, J. Barnes, W. Garrard, 
B. Connell. 

The Rev. Asa Shinn, of the Pittsburg Confer- 
ence, was elected president, and the Rev. T. W. 
Pearson, secretary. 

No alterations of any importance were made in 
the Discipline at this session ; its general provisions 
being so well adapted to the wants of the church 
that it was deemed most prudent to make but little 

At this session the first section of the eighth article 
of the Constitution was amended by striking out the 
word seventh, and instituting the word fourth, in 
its place, so as to require a meeting of the General 
Conference once in every four years, instead of every 
seven. A plan was adopted for the establishment 
of a church book concern. The project proposed 
was to raise a capital of $20,000 for the purpose. 
The object had in view, in the establishment of the 
book concern, was of a twofold nature. 1. For the 
publication and circulation of such books as should 
tend to the diffusion of religious knowledge and to 
the promotion of piety. 2. The raising of a dividend 
to enable the Annual Conferences respectively to 
carry out their plans of itinerant operations, in dis- 
seminating the great truths of Christianity. 

One of the sections of the plan adopted reads in 
the following words : " After the year 1842, let it 
be the duty of the committee to make dividends 
from the profits arising out of the business, to the 


respective Annual Conferences, in proportion to the 
amount of actual capital invested by the respective 
conference districts." But the business of the 
concern not having succeeded as well as it was ex- 
pected, no division of dividends has yet been made 
to the Annual Conferences, and the profits arising 
therefrom have been applied to the relief of the 
concern from its obligations and to the extension of 
its business. 

It was at this session of the General Conference 
that some excitement first began to be manifested 
upon the subject of slavery in connection with the 
church ; a subject, too, that most unhappily divides 
in feeling the north from the south, both in its civil 
and religious aspects, and the agitation of which 
there is mach reason to fear has militated, not only 
against the peace of the church, but has in some 
places seriously affected the progress of religion. 
The truth of this assertion is sustained by history. 
The Methodist Episcopal Church presents a case 
in point. It was upon that exciting question that 
the north and south parted asunder at the General 
Conference of 1S44 ; and within the space of two 
years it appears from the returns that the Northern 
portion of that church had suffered a decrease in 
membership of about fifteen thousand ; and if we 
were to take into the account the bitterness of feel- 
ing that took possession of the hearts and minds of 
many, both of the ministry and laity, and the un- 
happy wrangling and controversy that ensued, the 
loss would appear still greater. 


We have mentioned the introduction of this 
agitating subject into the General Conference of 
183S, in order that its progress may be fairly traced 
in connection with the M. P. Church. The con- 
ference regarded the subject as one over which 
they could not take constitutional cognizance, and 
therefore referred it to the people, where it more 
properly belongs, or rather to the Annual Confer- 
ences where the subject in question is immediately 
concerned Two new Annual Conferences were 
set off by this General Conference, viz : the Pitts- 
burg and Illinois Districts. The name of the paper 
conducted as the organ of the church, and devoted 
to its interests, was now changed to that of " The 
Methodist Protestant and Family Visiter." As has 
been remarked in the preceding part of this chapter, 
the increase of the M. P. Church for the past four 
years had been small, and from the best calculations 
which we are able to make, it exceeded to some 
extent 2S,000. 


On the 3d of May, 1842, the third General Con- 
ference met in Baltimore, and continued its session 
fourteen days. There were fifty-one members 
in attendance from the following conferences: 

Boston Conference — Thomas F. Norris, minister. 

Vermont Conference — Lewis S. Fish, layman. 

New York Conference — T. K. Witsil, Enoch Jacobs, ministers; 
John J. Reed, layman. 

Champlain Conference — None in attendance. 

Genesee Conference — A. Purnell, minister; Thomas Baikley, 



Onondaga Conference— O. E. Bryant, minister; L. B. Morris, 


Pennsylvania Conference— J. Smith, minister. 

Maryland Conference— Francis Waters, A. Webster, John S. 
Reese, F. Stier, James R. Williams, W. C. Lipscomb, William 
H.Bordley, ministers ; William S. Stockton, A. S.Naudain, Peter 
Light, E. Crutchley, J. B. Thomas, A. Waugh, William Rusk, 

Virginia Conference — John G. Whitfield, minister; H. B. 
Wood house, layman. 

North Carolina Conference — Alexander Albright, minister ; 
Wilson C. Whitaker, Robert C. Rankin, laymen. 

South Carolina Conference— Alexander McCaine, minister. 

Georgia Conference— None in attendance. 
' Alabama Conference— P. S. Graves, minister; B. S. Bibb, 


Tennessee Conference— None in attendance. 

Indiana Conference— Thomas Hicklin, H. P. Bennett, ministers; 
William Smith, John Burton, laymen. 

Illinois Conference— William H. Collins, minister. 

Mississippi Conference— Samuel Butler, minister. 

Ohio Conference— A. H. Bassett, minister; J. Whetstone, D. 
C. Carson, laymen. 

Pittsburg Conference— A. Shinn, John Burns, G. Brown, Z. 
Ragan, John Clarke, jr., C. Springer, ministers; Thomas Freeman, 
J. Souder, P. Lewis, James Clark, laymen. 

Rev. Asa Shinn, of the Pittsburg Conference, 
was elected chairman, and Rev. A. H. Bassett, of 
the Ohio, and J. J. Reed, of the New York Con- 
ference, secretaries. 

A few alterations or amendments of the Disci- 
pline were made at this conference, but principally 
relating to Annual Conferences, presidents of con- 
ferences, superintendents, missionaries, &c, all of 
which may be seen by comparing the edition of 


the Discipline of 1S42 with the preceding one. The 
amendments made were such as were suggested by 
experience, which no doubt will tend to promote 
the prosperity as well as secure the harmony of the 
church. At this conference the brethren from the 
north renewed the exciting subject of "abolition," 
which had been introduced into the preceding Gen- 
eral Conference. Warm and animated debates 
ensued. The abolitionists were clamorous for the 
conference to adopt some definite rule upon the 
subject of slavery, declaring it sinful in all its 
aspects and relations, while the conservatives or 
moderate men of both parties stood by the consti- 
tution, maintaining the ground that the General 
Conference had no constitutional authority to legis- 
late upon moral subjects — that the question properly 
belonged to the respective Annual Conferences 
within the limits of which the institution of slavery 
existed. But the more firm and determined sup- 
porters of the south went further in the range of 
their arguments, and appealed to holy writ in 
vindication of the existence of the institution. The 
debates closed by the adoption of the following 
resolution : 

"Resolved, That in the judgment of this General 
Conference the holding of slaves is not, under all 
circumstances, a sin against God, yet in our opinion, 
under some circumstances, it is sinful, and in such 
cases should be discouraged by the Methodist Pro- 
testant Church. This General Conference does not 
feel authorized by the constitution to legislate on 


the subject of slavery; and by a solemn vote we 
present the church our judgment, that the different 
Annual Conferences respectively should make their 
own regulations on this subject, so far as authorized 
by the constitution." 

This resolution did not satisfy the ultraists of the 
north, nor was it agreeable to some of the delegates 
from the south, who were opposed to intermeddling 
with ihe subject, and a protest bearing a few names 
was recorded on the journal against it. 

At this General Conference the periodical estab- 
lished as the organ of the church, and called the 
"Methodist Protestant and Family Visiter," was 
changed in name to that of " Methodist Protestant." 
Rev. E. Y. Reese was elected editor, but subse- 
quently resigned. The services of the Rev. Au- 
gustus Webster were afterwards secured by the 
book committee, and the editorial department of 
the paper was filled by him until the sitting of the 
General Conference of 1846. During the period 
intervening between the General Conferences of 
1838 and 1S42, the friends of the book concern 
labored with commendable zeal to place it upon a 
safe and respectable footing. The financial condi- 
tion of the country was such that the demand for 
books was small, but their devotion to the interests 
of the church was too great to be foiled even under 
the pressure of these circumstances. Through 
their devotion to its interests the concern was ena- 
bled to live. 



The General Conference of 1S4G met in the city 
of Cincinnati, on the first Tuesday in May. It was 
composed of seventy-one delegates from the follow- 
ing conferences : 

Maine Conference — None in attendance. 
Boston Conference — None in attendance. 
Vermont Conference — Ziba Boyington, minister. 
New York Conference — None in attendance. 
Champlain Conference — None in attendance. 
Onondaga Conference — Ira Hogan, minister. 
Genesee Conference — S. M. Short, minister. 
Pennsylvania Conference — None in attendance. 
New Jersey Conferenee — None in attendance. 
Maryland Conference — F. Waters, D. D., E. Henkle, J. S. 
Reese, L. R. Reese, J. Varden, I. Webster, U. Ward, J. R. 
Williams, T. Simm, ministers; W. Starr, A. L. Withers, T. R. 
Brown, J. Shriver, J. B. Matthews, laymen. 

Virginia Conference — R. B. Thompson and John J. Whitfield, 

North Carolina Conference — William Bellamy, W. H. Wills, 
John Paris, ministers; Spier Whitaker, layman. 
South Carolina Conference — None in attendance. 
Alabama Conference — None in attendance. 
Huntsville Conference — Henry Stilwell, minister; H. R. Bea- 
ver, layman. 

Mississippi Conference — Enos Fletcher, minister; N. White- 
head, layman. 

Louisiana Conference — Allen Rushing, minister. 
Tennessee Conference — R. \V. Morris, minister; James L. 
Armstrong, layman. 
Arkansas Conference — None in attendance. 
Indiana Conference— D. H. Stephens, Cyrus Jeffries, ministers; 
William Smith, layman. 

Illinois Conference— John Clarke, jr., W. H. Collins, ministers; 
Joel Rice, C. Rice, layman. 


Muskingum Conference — C. Springer, Z. Ragan, J. Dalby, jr., 
J. Burns, G. Claney, R. Andrew, J. Thrap, ministers; J. Bell. S. 
Rodman, W. B. Kerlin, T. Campbell, A. W. Beatty, laymen. 

Ohio Conference— A. H. Bassett, R. M. Dalby, J. White, J. 

E. Wilson, ministers; James Foster, D. C. Carson, M. Kennedy, 

Pittsburg Conference — G. Brown, W. Reeves, P. T. Laishly, 

F. A. Davis, J. Cord, ministers; J. H. Deford, F. H. Pierpont, J. 
W. Philips, C. Craig, laymen. 

Michigan Conference — James Gay, minister; H. Brownson, 

The Rev. Francis Waters, of the Maryland Con- 
ference, was elected president, and Rev. James E. 
Wilson and Rev. A. H. Bassett, of the Ohio Con- 
ference, secretaries. 

At this session of the General Conference but 
few alterations of the Discipline were made, and 
those principally of minor importance. It was be- 
lieved by that body that but few alterations or 
amendments were needful, and that that period 
was not an auspicious one for effecting changes. 

A question now came up from the Maryland 
Conference, requesting the General Conference to 
express its opinion upon the constitutionality of the 
action of that body (the Maryland Conference) with 
regard to the "Mission Rule." The Annual Confer- 
ence had changed the St. John's Station in Baltimore 
into a mission, and doubts were entertained by 
many as to the constitutionality of the measure. 
The General Conference declared the action of 
the Maryland Conference in the premises to be un- 
constitutional. The committee to whom the request 
of the Maryland Annual Conference was referred 


were divided in their sentiments. Majority and 
minority reports were made. Excited and ani- 
mated debates ensued upon proposed alterations of 
the mission rule. A substitute offered by Dr. 
Waters was finally adopted, which changes the 
preceding rule in some of its features, by granting 
to Annual Conferences more discretionary powers 
than they had heretofore possessed with respect to 
fields of missionary labor. 

The abolitionists also labored hard to get some 
rule adopted by the General Conference upon the 
subject of slavery. Various resolutions, amend- 
ments and substitutes were offered. Highly ex- 
cited debates ensued ; the speakers being princi- 
pally the ultraists and conservatives of the north. 
The former insisting upon the right and propriety 
of the General Conference in taking action in the 
premises or of expressing an opinion thereon ; the 
latter took the ground that the General Conference 
had no constitutional right to meddle with the sub- 
ject ; that it legitimately belonged to the respective 
Annual Conferences where it existed, and that the 
General Conference had no right to trammel their 
action by the expression of an opinion in its legisla- 
tive capacity. The following resolution, offered 
by Dr. J. S. Reese, was adopted, after one or two 
others had been laid on the table, and another one 
read and withdrawn : 

" Resolved, that in the judgment of this General 
Conference the holding of slaves is, under many 
circumstances, a -sin against God, and in such cases 


should be condemned by the Methodist Protestant 
Church ; nevertheless, it is our opinion that under 
some circumstances it is not sinful. This General 
Conference does not feel authorized by the consti- 
tution to legislate on the subject of slavery, and by 
a solemn vote we present to the church our judg- 
ment that the different Annual Conferences, respect- 
ively, should make their own regulations on this 
subject, so far as authorized by the Constitution." 

Some of the delegates from the south protested 
against being called upon to vote on this subject ; 
the yeas and nays having been demanded, upon 
the call of each name by the secretary, those who 
protested against the action in the premises gave 
their reasons for their vote as they saw proper under 
the circumstances. 

A favorable report of the financial condition of 
the book concern and church paper was made by 
the book committee. The Rev. E. Y. Reese was 
elected editor of the " Methodist Protestant " and 
book agent for the ensuing four years. The salary 
of the editor it was resolved should be not less than 
nine hundred dollars ; and he was allowed to have 
the assistance of a clerk appointed by the book com- 
mittee, whose salary and duties are to be prescribed 
by the board. 

As we have not at hand the report of the book 
committee to the General Conference, we shall 
here introduce the report of that committee to the 
last session of the Maryland Annual Conference, 
held March, 1849. The book concern being located 


within the bounds of that conference, the commit- 
tee are required to report annually to that body, as 
well as to each session of the General Conference. 


To the president and members of the Maryland Annual 
Conference, in conference assembled. 

Beloved Brethren, — The directors of the Meth- 
odist Protestant Church Book Concern, in obedi- 
ence to the requirements of the Discipline, take 
occasion to present to the Maryland Annual Con- 
ference, now in session in Alexandria, their report 
of proceedings for the past conference year, together 
with a statement showing the true condition of the 
concern at the present time. 

By a reference to the report of the directors, 
rendered to the last session of the conference, it 
will be seen that the concern was then worth 
$4,129 76 ; the present report will show that, by 
the assistance of kind friends and a successful busi- 
ness during the year, the concern has nearly 
doubled its value, and is now worth $8,250 32. 
In our last report we informed the conference that 
we had decided on stereot} ? ping the hymn book. 
This has been accomplished at a cost of four hun- 
dred dollars, and will save the expense of composi- 
tion in all future editions for at least twenty years 
to come. The first edition worked off" from the 
plates numbered 3,000 copies, of which we have 
sold 2,200, in addition to 700 which were on hand 
at the date of our last report, making in all 2,900 


Of the Discipline there have been sold 2,300 
copies, and of Clarke's Commentary 56. sets. Were 
our friends to purchase this work freely, its sales 
would greatly advance the pecuniary interests of 
the church; for although we furnish the work at a 
much lower price than that at which any similar 
work can be purchased in the United States, it nev- 
ertheless yields a handsome profit. The whole 
amount of books sold during the conference year 
was $4,005 89; of this a large proportion remains 
uncollected, but it is a favorable indication that 
our receipts on account of book debts during the 
year amount to $3,972. At the commencement 
of the year our ledger showed an indebtedness to 
the concern of about $3,000, after making due allow- 
ances for losses; and at the present about the same 
amount, with equal allowance, is due us; so that 
our receipts on book accounts the present year are 
equal, within a fraction, to the amount of sales 
effected. But we do not say this in justification of 
those who are culpably negligent. 

The financial condition of the paper is still im- 
proving, but less rapidly than could be desired. 
At the last report there were 2,800 subscribers on 
the list, of whom we have been compelled to erase 
the names of several hundred for non-payment; 
but by the addition of new subscribers the present 
list is within a fraction of 3,000. 

The total receipts during the past year on the 
paper, including old dues, are $4,195 28; on the 
present (15th) volume the receipts have been light, 


only $1,753. It is hoped, however, that as in for- 
mer cases, the close of the year will bring up the 

The expenses for publishing the paper are about 
the same as for the preceding volume, say $3,500. 
The profits on the present volume, it is thought, 
will be in the neighborhood of one thousand dollars. 
On volume 14th the collections have covered the 
entire expense of its publication, so that payments 
hereafter on that volume and all preceding volumes, 
will be placed among the actual* profits of the 


The stereotyped plates were passed into our hands at an 

estimated value of $5,150 00 

Hymn Book plates cost 400 00 

Stock in hand, valued at 2,250 00 

Due by present subscribers to Methodist Protestant to the 

end of present volume, after deductions for bad debts, 4,100 00 

Discontinued subscribers, 700 00 

Collectable book debts, 3,000 00 

Cash on hand, 241 00 

$15,841 00 


Mortgage to S. A. F. S. of Maryland Conference, . $1 ,800 00 
Notes payable in redemption of scrip, . . . 1,636 68 

Sundry debls, 1,900 00 

Phebean Society, 800 00 

Interest to Phebean Society, ..... 54 00 

Estimated expense of publishing Methodist Protestant to 

end of present volume, including half of salaries and rent, 1,400 00 

$7,590 68 



Assets, $15,841 00 

Liabilities, 7,590 68 

Present worth of the concern at the former estimated ■ 

value of the plates^ ...... $8,250 32 

It will be recollected that in our last report to the 
conference there were sixty-eight shares of church 
scrip remaining unredeemed, amounting to $3,400. 
We now purpose to inform the conference how the 
principal and interest of ihose shares of scrip have 
been disposed of. Sixteen shares ($S00), held by 
the Phebean Society, remain in possession of that 
society, and the interest paid annually. Sixteen 
shares ($800), held by the S. A. F. Society have 
been canceled in the following manner: the mana- 
gers of that society have relinquished the interest, 
and have taken a lien on the property of the book 
concern for the principle, together with $1,000 due 
by the concern to W. Starr, which he assigned as a 
donation to said society, it being part of a loan of 
$1,700 made by him two years ago, to enable the 
book committee to publish an edition of Clarke's 
Commentary. The payment of the whole $1,800 
to be made by installments of $200 per annum, 
commencing on the first day of December, 1S51, 
with interest from that date until the whole shall 
have been paid. Twenty-eight shares ($1,400), 
held by Wesley Starr, have been canceled in the 
following manner : He relinquished or gave to the 
concern the interest due, $805; he also gave to the 
concern $350, which was due to him, and received 


from the committee their notes for the balance, 
$1,050, with interest till paid. The same brother 
gave to the concern $350 of the amount loaned by 
him to publish Clarke's Commentary, subject, how- 
ever, to the annual payment during his lifetime of 
$20 for the benefit of the West Baltimore Station 
Sabbath School. Four shares ($200), held by Ed- 
ward Green, were purchased by the concern for 
$145, and he relinquished or gave the interest due 
to the church. Four shares ($200), held by William 
Savory's heirs, were purchased by the concern for 
$200, and they relinquished the interest. 

By the above statement the conference will per- 
ceive: 1st, That all the interest due on the scrip, 
amounting to the sum of $1,300, has been relin- 
quished to the church, and thus a heavy item of 
liability is for ever removed from the debtor side of 
our annual account. 2d, That the certificates of 
stock issued by the Methodist Protestant Church in 
1839, except the few held by the Phebean Society, 
have been canceled; and 3d, That the debt on 
scrip has been so arranged by notes as to give the 
concern ample time to pay it, without embarrassing 
it in its other operations. 

In connection with the above statement, the 
directors take pleasure in acknowleding the receipt 
of a donation of $500, for the benefit of the Mary- 
land Annual Conference, from a young lady who is 
a member of our church, and who on a former 
occasion bestowed a gratuity of $1,000 to the con- 
cern subject to the annual payment of $60 worth 


of religious books. The conditions of the recent 
gratuity are: the directors of the book concern are 
to distribute annually to the itinerant preachers of 
the Maryland Annual Conference, thirty dollars 
worth of suitable books, so as to meet the neces- 
sities of young men in the ministry, who may be 
unable to purchase them. She also assigns to the 
directors the right to distribute $30 worth additional, 
to be charged to the account of $60 per annum, 
(life annuity,) to which she was entitled for the for- 
mer donation. Should the concern at any future 
time prefer to return the $500 to stop the annuity, 
they are authorized to pay the sum to the managers 
of the S. A. F. Society. 

Dear brethren, permit us to conclude our report 
by an appeal to the good sense and benevolent 
feelings of the ministers and members of the Mary- 
land Conference and those of the thirty-two Annual 
Conferences of the M. P. Church. Does it not 
appear to you, brethren, that so numerous a body 
of ministers and members, most of whom have 
means and opportunities to do much good, have 
done exceedingly Utile towards the establishment 
of a concern, the avowed design of which is, by the 
sale of books and the publication of a religious paper, 
to obtain annually a sum sufficiently respectable to 
distribute to each of the Annual Conferences at 
least one hundred dollars, to aid in making up de- 
ficiencies among the itinerant brethren who have 
not received the whole amount of their limited 
allowances ? 


The book concern has been in operation for ten 
years, under the direction of attentive, laborious 
men, whose services have been yielded gratuitously, 
and lo ! such has been the apathy of the church, 
generally, that the concern just now begins to show 
signs of life and promises of future usefulness. Out 
of thirty-two conference districts we have at length 
obtained within a fraction of 3,000 subscribers, 
which is less than an average of 100 to each dis- 
trict, when, to speak within the bounds of modera- 
tion, the average ought to be at least 500 to each 
district. During the past year we have sold about 
$4,000 worth of books, an average less than $130 
to each district, when any impartial man will say 
that five times the amount ought to have been pur- 
chased, especially as the profits are designed to 
benefit the purchasers, by aiding them to make up 
deficiencies in their own conferences. Can we not 
do better than we have done? or shall the same 
apathy which has benumbed and retarded the ad* 
vancement of our little concern for so many years 
continue to arrest our progress and keep us down, 
until we become a reproach and a by-word among 
the thousands of Israel ? 

Again, dear brethren, does it not appear to you 
to be a burning shame that the subscribers and the 
purchasers of books should retain in their own 
hands nearly $7,000 which are justly due to the 
concern ? The directors tell you that the concern 
is worth $8,250, but alas ! almost the whole amount 
is away in the hands of their customers, and the 


directors and agent left without means to pay off 
the printer and paper-maker. Do we not appear 
to you very much like certain rich men who have 
their thousands on paper, but have not money to 
buy their marketing? And does not the conduct 
of the whole church resemble the parent who pro- 
fesses great affection for the child, but denies it 
food and raiment? 

It would encourage us who hold the laboring oar 
greatly if we could bring the ministry and member- 
ship to make suitable efforts towards carrying the 
concern up to a point whence it may be able to 
furnish the help designed by its founders and origina- 
tors. Come, brethren, let us try if we cannot, during 
the coming year, greatly increase the subscription 
list, and further the sale of our church books. 

The session of the General Conference is now at 
hand, to which body the directors of the book con- 
cern are required to give " a full and particular 
account of all matters and things connected with 
the church book concern." It would be very 
pleasant to all to have it in our power to exhibit 
the concern in a healthy and prosperous condition. 
Nothing can prevent so desirable a result but negli- 
gence on the part of the church. The brethren 
will doubtless excuse our great plainness in the 
preceding remarks when they take into view our 
anxiety to make the concern efficient in the secure- 
ment of the great objects of its institution. All of 
which is respectfully submitted by the directory. 
James R. Williams, President. 



The General Conference of 1846 recognized the 
following twenty-nine Annual Conference Districts, 
their boundaries being as follow: 

Maine District includes all the State of Maine. 

Boston District includes all the States of Mas- 
sachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. 

Vermont District commences at the south-east 
corner of the State of Vermont, and runs thence, 
westwardly, to Lansingburg, on the North river 
(leaving that town in the New York District) ; 
thence, westwardly, to the south-west corner of 
Montgomery and Fulton counties ; thence, from the 
north-west corner of Fulton county, eastwardly, 
opposite the towns of Athol and Johnsburg, as far 
north as the south line of Elizabethtown ; thence, 
eastwardly, along the south line of Elizabethtown to 
lake Champlain ; thence down the lake to the Canada 
line ; thence to the north-west corner of New 
Hampshire ; and thence to the place of beginning. 

New York District includes the State of Con- 
necticut, and that part of the State of New York 
lying south-east of a line beginning at the north- 
west corner of Montgomery county; thence, east- 
wardly, to Lansingburg, on the North river, in- 
cluding that town ; thence, south, by said river, to 
Troy; and thence, eastwardly, to the north-west 
corner of Massachusetts, including Long and Staten 

Onondaga District commences at the point 
where the old pre-emption line intersects" Lake 


Ontario, and runs thence, southwardly, bounding 
on the Genesee District, to the line of the Pennsyl- 
vania District; thence, along said line, so far as to 
embrace Cherry Valley and Westford Circuits, and 
all the territory west and south of the county of St. 
Lawrence (with the exception of Twin Circuit); 
thence, in a north-westwardly direction, to the 
Oswego river ; and thence, by lake Ontario, to the 
place of beginning. 

Genesee District commences at the point 
where the old pre-emption line intersects Lake 
Ontario, and runs thence in a direct line to the 
foot of Seneca lake ; thence, up the middle of said 
lake, to the line of Pennsylvania District ; thence, 
west, to the north-west corner of said district ; 
thence, south, to the southern boundary line of the 
State of New York ; thence, by said State line, to 
Lake Erie ; and thence, by said lake, the Niagara 
river, and Lake Ontario, to the place of beginning 

Michigan District includes the State of Michi- 
gan and the northern tier of counties in the State 
of Indiana. 

Indiana District includes all the State of In- 
diana, except the part embraced in the Michigan 

Illinois District commences at the north line 
of Township No. 4, on the Mississippi river, north 
of the base line, running due east to the Indiana 
line ; embracing all the southern part of the State 
and all that part of Missouri not included in the 
Arkansas District. 


North Illinois District embraces all that por- 
tion of the State of Illinois not included in Illinois 
District and the territory of Wisconsin. 

Iowa District includes all the territory of Iowa 
west of the Mississippi river, and north of the 
States of Missouri and Arkansas. 

Ohio District includes that part of the State of 
Ohio lying west of the Sciota and Sandusky rivers, 
excepting the counties of Crawford, Seneca, San- 
dusky and Wyandott. 

Muskingum District includes all that part of the 
State of Ohio not included in the Ohio District. 

Pittsburg District includes that portion of the 
States of Virginia and Pennsylvania lying west of 
the Allegany mountains. 

New Jersey District includes the State of N. 

Pennsylvania District begins at the junction 
of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers and runs thence 


by a direct line to Harrisburg (including that city); 
thence by the Susquehanna river to the mouth of 
the Juniata; thence up the Juniata to the dividing 
line of Mifflin and Huntingdon counties; thence by 
a direct line due north into Allegany county, N. Y., 
so far as to embrace Broome county by a line due 
east; thence by the north-east and east lines of 
Broome county to the Delaware, and thence by 
said river to the place of beginning. 

Maryland District includes all the State of 
Maryland and that part of Virginia not included in 
the Virginia District; the State of Delaware, and 


all that part of Pennsylvania west of the Susque- 
hanna river not included in the Pittsburg District. 

Virginia District includes all the State of Vir- 
ginia not included within the Maryland and Pitts- 
burg Districts. 

North Carolina District includes the State of 
North Carolina. 

South Carolina District includes the State of 
South Carolina. 

Georgia District includes all the State of 
Georgia, except the counties of Decatur, Thomas, 
Lowndes, Ware and Camden. 

Florida District includes all that part of 
Florida east of the Apalachicola river; and that 
part of Georgia not included in the Georgia District. 

Alabama District includes that part of Ala- 
bama not included in the Huntsville District, and 
that part of Florida west of Apalachicola river. 

Tennessee District includes all that part of 
Tennessee not included in the Huntsville District, 
and the State of Kentucky. 

Huntsville District commences at the south- 
western corner of Lafayette county, Alabama, and 
runs eastward with the lines of Lafayette and 
Walker counties to the Black Warrior river; thence 
down said river to the south-western corner of 
Jefferson county; thence in a direct line across 
Shelby county to the south-west corner of Talla- 
dega county; thence eastward with the southern 
boundary line of Talladega and Randolph counties 
to the State of Georgia; thence northward with the 


state line to the State of Tennessee; thence in a 
direct line to the nearest point of the Cumberland 
mountain, on the north side of Tennessee river; 
thence in such direction to the mouth of Cedar 
creek, in Perry county, as may be necessary to 
comprise all the country situated on the waters of 
Tennessee river, on the north side thereof, between 
the two points last designated, and all the country 
situated on the waters of Buffalo river above the 
mouth of Sinking creek, in Perry county; thence 
up Tennessee river (from the mouth of Cedar 
creek) to the line of the State of Alabama; thence 
southward with the said line of Alabama to the 

Mississippi District includes the State of 

Louisiana District includes the States of 
Louisiana and Texas. 

Arkansas District includes the State of Ar- 

Philadelphia District includes all that part of 
the state of Pennsylvania east of the Susquehanna 
river (except Hummelstown Mission,) not included 
in the Pennsylvania District. 

Two other Annual Conferences, viz: the Texas 
and Missouri, had been organized prior to the sit- 
ting of the General Conference of 1846, but the evi- 
dence of their organization failed to reach the Gen- 
eral Conference, from some unforeseen cause, con- 
sequently their names and boundaries do not yet 
appear in the book of Discipline. Since then 


another, the Wabash Conference, has been organ- 
ized, making in all thirty-two Annual Conferences 
in the Methodist Protestant communion. 


The following table of statistics is taken in part 
from the reported or published minutes of confer- 
ences about the close of the year 1S4S and the be- 
ginning of 1849. For want of later items of intelli- 
gence with regard to some of the conferences, we 
have had to copy from their minutes published one 
and two years ago. Consequently the total numer- 
ical strength of the church, as summed up in the 
table, no doubt falls considerably below the true or 
actual numbers. 

There is a rule of Discipline, found on page 53, 
section 23d, which requires that " each Annual 
Conference shall publish its minutes, containing, 1. 
A list of all the appointments for the ensuing 3?ear. 
2. A complete list of all the stationed and unsta- 
tioned ministers and preachers within the district, 
and those who are superannuated. 3. The names of 
those ministers and preachers who have deceased, 
withdrawn, or been expelled. 4. The general ex- 
hibit of the conference steward. 5. The number 
of members, including ministers and preachers. 6. 
The time and place of holding the next Annual 
Conference; and the number of houses of worship 
belonging to the district." But we regret that some 
of the Annual Conferences have so overlooked this 
rule, that our statistical table is rendered meagre. 






00 00 00 

£ » US 2 


— C 
00 CO 



]VIaryland, . . . 
Virginia, . . . 
North Carolina, 
South Carolina, 
Georgia, . . . . 


Alabama, . . . 
Mississippi, . . 
Louisiana, . . . 
Texas, .... 
Arkansas, . . . 
Missouri, . . . 
Huntsville, . . 
Tennessee, . . 
Illinois, . . . . 
North Illinois, 
Iowa, ..... 
Michigan, . . 
Wabash, .... 
Indiana, . . . , 


Muskingum, . , 
Pittsburg, . . . 
Pennsylvania, . 
Philadelphia, . 
Genesee, . . . , 
Onondaga, . . . 
New York, . . . 
New Jersey, . 
Boston, .... 
Vermont, . . . 
Maine, .... 
































67 |356 

81 761 








1,382 36 
1,995 13 

944 5 

1,680 3 
1,210 5 
1,471 20 
4,319! 67 
5,799 55 

520 5 


700 1 






The progress of the Methodist Protestant Church 
has been onward. Prosperity has marked her 
course. Truly the Lord has done great things for 
her, whereof we are glad. In the preceding pages 
we have brought to view the untoward circum- 
stances that gave birth to her organization — we 
have noticed the character of the persecutions got- 
ten up by men in high places against those called 
" reformers," and we have watched those perse- 
cuted few who nobly refused to abandon their princi- 
ples of ecclesiastical polity., and thereby admit and 
acknowledge the exclusive claims of itinerant cler- 
ical supremacy — we saw them, when cast out of 
the church of their first love, rally together and 
unite themselves in a bond of Christian brother- 
hood under the banners of mutual rights. And 
though their organizations were "few and far bo 
tween" yet tracing their history we find that in 
twenty years this little company has become a 
great army. The principles of reform have out- 
lived the war of persecution that once' so madly 
raged. There have been a few of the ministry of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church who have talked 
and written of " the Methodist Protestant Church 
being a failure," that " the cause was going down," 
&c. But her failure (if it be called such) consists 
in the onward march of her principles, a rapid in- 
crease of membership, and the influence and use- 
fulness of her ministry. And as to " the cause 


going down," we would remark, in the language of 
the Rev. Asa Shinn, who, having heard such a re- 
mark made upon a certain occasion, replied, ; ' 'Tis 
true it is going down, but, like the beautiful Ohio 
river, the further it goes the deeper and broader it 

The Methodist Protestant Church is one of the 
fairest of the dau^htei-s of Zion. Her Constitution 
and Discipline secure to her ministry and member- 
ship mutual rights, and justly challenge the admira- 
tion of the world as a system of ecclesiastical polity. 
Her principles have been spreading and continue 
to spread. Christian people, becoming tired of 
itinerant supremacy, are throwing off such author- 
ity; and, resolved to think for themselves, are call- 
ing for the ministry and discipline of the M. P. 
Church. Very recently such calls have been made 
from the cities of New Orleans and Mobile ; and 
within the last year large secessions from the M. E. 
Church have taken place in the western part of 
North Carolina, and flocking to the standard of the 
M. P. Church have organized themselves under her 
discipline. For these things and such as these 
some of the votaries of itinerant clerical supremacy 
in the former church take umbrage at the last men- 
tioned church. It was but a few years ago that one 
of the ministers of the M. E. Church in North Car- 
olina, speaking of the M. P. Church, declared over 
his own signature that "she was like the vulture that 
preyed upon the carcases of its ovm murdered victims ;" 
and "like the wandering gipsey who refused to bring 


up her own natural offspring, she seizes upon every 
straggling child upon which she can lay her hands, 
and bears it off to make it the dupe of her own base 
impositions.'''' * 

Alas ! alas ! what had become of that charity 
which hopeth all things when this teacher of the 
religion of Jesus penned the preceding sentences ! 
But thank God we are happ}^ to record that only a 
few of the ministry of the M. E. Church so far forget 
their calling and profession as to exhibit such a 
spirit, or breathe such sentiments towards the 
Methodist Protestant Church. 

It is not necessary for us to declare the foregoing 

* Bigotry often sways the feelings of Methodists, as well as of 
other people, although Mr. Fletcher has said, " bigots are religious 
savages." Upon a certain occasion, a popular minister of the 
Methodist Protestant Church, traveling through a part of the 
country where he was but little known, called in a country village 
and was invited by a friend to preach in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church at night. The invitation was accepted. An old side 
brother, who was in the habit of giving utterance to his feelings 
under the preaching of the word, but not much distinguished for 
his charity towards Methodist Protestants, " shouted aloud " in 
the congregation during the sermon. On the next day, meeting 
with a friend, he inquired "who the minister was," with whom 
he had been so much delighted the preceding evening. On being 
told that he was a minister of the Methodist Protestant Church, 
he exclaimed, "Well, if I had known that, I would not have 
shouted last night!" 

We relate these things not for the disparagement of the M. E. 
Church, but to afford a glance at the opposition that is sometimes 
exhibited by a few, within the pale of that communion, to the M. 
P. Church, and that, too, for an honest difference of opinion about 
church polity. 



assertions which we have quoted, to be destitute of 
truth or the least semblance of truth; for history, 
observation, and facts all combine to contradict 
such assertions, and demonstrate to the world the 
entire vanity of all such declarations. And throwing 
the mantle of charity over all such men, the very 
best, as well as the mildest conclusion at which we 
can arrive, is simply this, that they are ignorant of 
the things whereof they write or speak. 

Of the labor, zeal and usefulness of the ministry 
of the M. P. Church .jwe leave the world to judge. 
Their efforts to promote the advancement of the 
Redeemer's kingdom, by winning souls to Jesus, 
have been abundantly owned and blessed of God. 
Extensive and glorious revivals of religion have 
crowned their labors in almost every part of the 
United States where their efforts have been 
directed. Believers have been edified and the 
church built up and strengthened. They inculcate 
the doctrines of free grace, and teach that " holi- 
ness without which no man shall see the Lord." 
Zealously enforcing these principles, and firmly 
adhering to the Constitution and Discipline of the 
church, they can, they will succeed. 

Thus far the Methodist Protestant Church has 
been abundantly blessed of God. May she ever 
be watered with the dews of heavenly grace, be 
instrumental in guiding millions of happy spirits 
to heaven, until this lovely daughter of Zion 
shall prove a praise and a blessing in the whole 
earth. Amen. 







Episcopacy. — Ordination among Methodist Preachers in Virginia in 
1779. — Letter of Mr. Wesley to the American Methodists, dated 
September 10th, 1784. — Remarks upon the preceding letter. — Dr. 
Coke's letter of authority from Mr. Wesley. — Dr. Coke's letter to 
Mr. Wesley. — Charles Wesley to his brother John. — Extracts 
from Rev. Jesse Lee and Rev. James O'Kelley. 

The history of the Methodist Episcopal Church, from its 
organization in 1784 down to the present period, demonstrates 
the fact that all the difficulties through which she has passed have 
had their origin in the nature of that system of ecclesiastical 
polity which she adopted, or rather which was adopted and palmed 
upon her by the two Britons, — Coke and Asbury, — under the pro- 
fessed sanction of Mr. Wesley's name. 

In the economy of this government there are two points to 
which we invite the particular attention of the reader, viz : Epis- 
copacy, and the exclusion of the laity from any participation 
whatever in the law or rule-making department of the church. 
Episcopacy is a subject that has had its advocates as well as 
opponents in almost every period of the history of the Christian 
church. Various definitions have been given of its prerogatives 
and powers as it exists among the different orders of Christians.. 
The Church of Rome has her system of episcopacy. The Greek 
Church has hers also. The Church of England boasts of the 
scriptural authority of hers ; and her eldest daughter, the Protest- 
ant Episcopal Church in the United States, brings forward her 


boastful pretensions to an " unbroken chain of prelatical succes- 
sion" from the apostles down to the present period. And lastly, 
the Methodist Episcopal Church presents before us her system of 
episcopacy, into which we now propose to institute an inquiry 
as to its validity. 

It is generally asserted by the writers of the Methodist Epis- 
copal school that the government of that church is to be attributed 
to John Wesley, as its author and founder, so far as plan or sys- 
tem is concerned. The truth or justice of this position it is now 
our business to investigate. That John Wesley was the founder 
of Methodism in Europe is admitted on all sides, and that he like- 
wise supplied the American Methodists for a few years with 
preachers sent over from England through his influence or by his 
authority, is equally true. But that he recommended the " epis- 
copal form of government," we regard as altogether untenable, 
and it cannot be sustained by the facts in the case. 

During the struggle of war between the American colonies and 
the mother country, a contest of opinion sprang up among the 
few Methodist preachers then in America, with regard to the 
administration of the ordinances of the church. At a conference 
held in Virginia, in 1779, the preachers, "feeling the want of the 
instituted means of grace among the societies," consulted together, 
and chose a committee for the purpose of ordaining ministers. 
The committee thus chosen first ordained themselves, and then 
proceeded to ordain and set apart other preachers for the same 
purpose, that they might administer the holy ordinances of the 
church of Christ* This movement produced a warm contention 
anion": the Methodist preachers, many of them opposing such a 
step as being informal and therefore invalid ; and in order to settle 
the difficulty, it was agreed among them to desist from adminis- 
tering the ordinances for one year, and that Mr. Asbury should, 
in the space of that time, write to Mr. Wesley in England, and 
lay their situation before him and get his advice. This was in 
the year 1780. Mr. Wesley, in the year 1783, wrote a letter 
of advice to the Methodist societies, exhorting them to "abide 
by the Methodist doctrines and Discipline." But in the following 

* Lee's History of the Methodists, p. 69. 



year, 1784, when peace had been established between the two 
countries, and the colonies had become independent states, and all 
British authority, both civil and ecclesiastical, being withdrawn, 
and at an end in America, Mr. Wesley seems to have taken new 
views with regard to the situation of the American Methodists, 
as the following circular letter to them will show : 

Bristol, September 10th, 1784. 
To Dr. Coke, Mr. Jlsbury, and our brethren in North America : 

1. By a very uncommon train of providences, many of the 
provinces of North America are totally disjoined from the British 
empire, and erected into independent states. The English govern- 
ment has no authority over them, either civil or ecclesiastical, 
any more than over the states of Holland. A civil authority is 
exercised over them, partly by the Congress, partly by the state 
Assemblies; but no one either exercises or claims any ecclesiastical 
authority at all. In this peculiar situation some thousands of the 
inhabitants of these states desire my advice ; and in compliance 
with their desire, I have drawn up a little sketch. 

2. Lord King's account of the primitive church convinced me 
many years ago, that bishops and presbyters are the same order 
and consequently have the same right to ordain. For many years 
I have been importuned from time to time, to exercise this right, 
by ordaining part of our traveling preachers. But I have still 
refused, not only for peace' sake, but because I was determined 
as little as possible to violate the established order of the national 
church to which I belonged. 

3. But the case is widely different between England and North 
America. Here there are bishops who have a legal jurisdiction. 
In America there are none, and but few parish ministers. So 
that for some hundred miles together there are none either to bap- 
tize or administer the Lord's supper. Here therefore my scruples 
are at an end: and I conceive myself at full liberty, as I violate 
no order and invade no man's right, by appointing and sending 
laborers into the harvest. 

4. I have accordingly appointed Dr. Coke and Mr. Francis 
Asbury to be joint superintendents over our brethren in North 
America. As also Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey, to act 


as elders among them, by baptizing and administering the Lord's 

5. If any one will point out a more rational and scriptural 
way of feeding and guiding those poor sheep in the wilderness, I 
will gladly embrace it. At present I cannot see any better method 
than that I have taken. 

6. It has indeed been proposed to desire the English bishops 
to ordain part of our preachers for America. But to this I object, 
1. I desired the bishop of London to ordain one only; but could 
not prevail. 2. If they consented, we know the slowness of their 
proceeding ; but the matter admits of no delay. 3. If they would 
ordain them now, they would likewise expect to govern them. 
And how grievously would this entangle us! 4. As our Amer- 
ican brethren are now totally disentangled both from the state, 
and from the English hierarchy, we dare not entangle them again 
either with the one or the other. They are now at full liberty, 
simply to follow the Scriptures and the primitive church. And 
we judge it best that they should stand fast in that liberty where- 
with God had so strangely made them free. 

John Wesley. 

The preceding letter is the only document that has ever been 
produced in this country bearing the signature of the Rev. John 
Wesley, having any relation to the organization of the Meth- 
odists in America into a church. The declaration has often 
been published to the world, that Mr. Wesley "preferred the 
episcopal form of church government to any other," and that con- 
sequently he had set apart and ordained Dr. Coke to the office of 
bishop. And we find in the Methodist Episcopal Church Dis- 
cipline the following statement laid down as an exposition of 
the reasons and causes that led to the formation of that church, 
as well as the steps taken in the same : 

" The preachers and members of our society in general being 
convinced that there was a great deficiency of vital religion in 
the Church of England in America, and being in many places 
destitute of the Christian sacraments, as several of the clergy had 
forsaken their churches, requested the late Rev. John Wesley to 
take such measures, in his wisdom and prudence, as would afford 


them suitable relief in their distress. In consequence of this, our 
venerable friend, who, under God, had been the father of the great 
revival of religion now extending over the earth by means 
of the Methodists, determined to ordain ministers for America ; 
and for this purpose in the year 1784 sent over three regularly 
ordained clergy. But, preferring the episcopal mode of church 
government to any other, he solemnly set apart, by the imposition 
of his hands and prayer, one of them, viz: Thomas Coke, doctor 
of civil law, late of Jesus College, in the University of Oxford, 
and a presbyter of the Church of England, for the episcopal 
office ; and having delivered to him letters of episcopal orders, 
commissioned and directed him to set apart Francis Asbury, then 
general assistant of the Methodist society in America, for the 
same episcopal office, he, the said Francis Asbury, being first 
ordained deacon and elder. In consequence of which, the said 
Francis Asbury was solemnly set apart for the said episcopal 
office, by prayer and the imposition of the hands of the said 
Thomas Coke, other regularly ordained ministers assisting in the 
sacred ceremony. At which time the General Conference held at 
Baltimore did unanimously receive the said Thomas Coke and 
Francis Asbury as their bishops, being fully satisfied of the validity 
of their episcopal ordination." — See Methodist Book of Discipline. 
The preceding is the account which the authorities of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church give of her origin. Is it in accord- 
ance with the principles laid down and the statements made in 
the foregoing letter signed by John Wesley? It is not. The 
discrepancy is most palpable. The account in the Methodist 
Discipline says " he (Mr. Wesley) solemnly set apart, by the 
imposition of his hands and prayer, one of them, viz : Thomas 
Coke, doctor of civil law, late of Jesus College, in the University 
of Oxford, and a presbyter of the Church of England, for the 
episcopal office." Mr. Wesley says, " Lord King's account of the 
primitive church convinced me, many years ago, that bishops and 
presbyters are the same order, and consequently have the same right 
to ordain." Now, upon this avowal of Mr. Wesley, Dr. Coke 
had as good a right to ordain Mr. Wesley to the episcopal office 
as Mr. Wesley had to ordain him. They were both presbyters 
in the Church of England, equal in office and equal in authority 


so far as that office gave them authority in the church. In the 
account given in the Discipline, we find the words " episcopal" 
and " bishop," brought into use, but in Mr. Wesley's letter they 
are not to be found, so far as the organization of a " Methodist 
Episcopal Church" is concerned. 

Mr. Wesley says, " I have accordingly appointed Dr. Coke 
and Mr. Francis Asbury to be joint superintendents over our 
brethren in America." That Mr. Wesley never intended by 
the term " superintendent," in the preceding sentence, to convey 
the idea that is attached to the term "bishop," is certainly sus- 
ceptible of the clearest proof. For, 1. When he spoke of the 
prelates or church dignitaries of the Church of England, of which 
he was a member, he never used the term " superintendent" as 
applicable to them at all, but invariably used the term "bishop." 
2. Mr. Asbury, at the date of Mr. Wesley's letter, was nothing 
more than a lay preacher, consequently when Mr. Wesley said* 
" I have appointed Dr. Coke and Francis Asbury to be joint 
superintendents," he could have had no reference whatever to 
the ordination of Dr. Coke to the episcopacy. 3. If Dr. Coke 
ever was ordained to the office of the episcopacy as taught and 
received by the Methodist Episcopal Church, it had been done 
prior to the date of Mr. Wesley's letter, which is entirely silent 
upon the subject. And lastly, all who are acquainted with the 
style and clearness of Mr. Wesley's sentences as a writer, must 
admit that he was too concise to use the word " superintendent,' 
to represent the idea of the episcopal office in a theological sense. 
That Mr. Wesley gave Dr. Coke a letter testimonial of his 
appointment as a "superintendent," we readily admit; but the 
words "episcopacy" and "bishop" are not to be found therein. 
As this novel document is to be found in Drew's Life of Dr. Coke, 
we shall transcribe it for the satisfaction of the curious. 

To all whom these presents shall come: John Wesley, late fel- 
low of Lincoln College, in Oxford, presbyter of the Church of 
England, sendeth greeting: 

Whereas many of the people in the southern provinces of 
North America, who desire to continue under my care, and still 
adhere to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, 


are greatly distressed for want of ministers to administer the sac- 
rament of baptism and the Lord's supper, according to the usages 
of the same church ; and whereas there does not appear to be any 
other way of supplying them with ministers, 

Know all men that I, John Wesley, think myself to be provi- 
dentially called at this time to set apart some persons for the 
work of the ministry in Ameiica. And, therefore, under the pro- 
tection of Almighty God, and with a single eye to his glory, I 
have this day set apart as a superintendent, by the imposition of 
my hands and prayers, (being assisted by other ordained minis- 
ters,) Thomas Coke, doctor of civil law, a presbyter of the 
Church of England, and a man whom I judge to be well qualified 
for that great work. And 1 do hereby recommend him to all 
whom it may concern as a fit person to preside over the flock of 
Christ. In testimony whereof 1 have hereunto set my hand and 
seal, this second day of September, in the year of our Lord one 
thousand seven hundred and eighty- four. 

John Wesley. 

There are two points that deserve particular attention in the 
preceding document. First, that many of the Methodists in 
America who desired to continue under the care of Mr. Wesley* 
and " to adhere to the doctrines and discipline of the church of 
England, were distressed for want of ministers to administer the 
sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, according to the 
usage of the same church." From what is set forth in this item 
it is evident that those people still wished to adhere to the doc- 
trine and discipline of the Church of England; consequently they 
desired no departure from her regulations; and of course neither 
desired nor expected to recognize any man in the character of 
" bishop," apart from those who derived their prelatical functions 
and authority from that church ; and in order to meet these wants 
of the people, a man of Mr. Wesley's goodness of heart and 
rectitude of purpose could never have intended to place over them 
a man holding an office contrary to the principles of the established 
church. Secondly, that Mr. Wesley did set forth as a superin- 
tendent, by the imposition of his hands and prayers, Thomas 
Coke. Upon this point the question naturally arises, did Mr. 


Wesley in this act consecrate or ordain Dr. Coke a bishop? The 
fair inference or answer is, he did not. If he had done so, his 
candor was such that he would have been free to declare it. But 
he uses neither of the terms, and merely states, " I have set 
apart," &c. If he had regarded Dr. Coke as a " superintendent " 
vested with the exclusive authority and prerogatives now claimed 
by " the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church," he would 
have felt free to recognize him in that character. But the reverse 
is true. Mr. Wesley had merely set apart Dr. Coke as a " super- 
intendent," and not as a bishop. The object had in view in 
setting apart Dr. Coke was, as it appears, that he might visit the 
Methodists in America, under the sanction of Mr. Wesley's name 
and influence, and make arrangements in order to their being sup- 
plied with the "sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper." 
And as Mr. Wesley declared over his own signature, eight days 
after that setting apart, that Lord King's account of the primitive 
church had convinced him years ago that bishops and presbyters 
are the same order, it would be doing him not only gross injustice, 
but charging him with folly, to assert that, entertaining such sen- 
timents as this concerning ecclesiastical orders, he had set apart 
or ordained Dr. Coke (who was then a presbyter in the Church of 
England) to the office of bishop in the Methodist Church in 
America. He was a man whose intentions were too pure to lay 
himself liable to such a charge of duplicity. There is not an 
instance on record in which he called either Dr. Coke or Mr. 
Asbury "bishop." But he invariably opposed their assumption 
of that title, of which there is an ample amount of documentary 
testimony ; and that opposition must have been for the reason 
that they were not bishops in his estimation, as they professed to 
be ; or else his opposition to their use of the term rested upon 
improper grounds, which none will presume to assert. 

We shall here introduce one of Mr. Wesley's biographers, 
Rev. Mr. Moore, to speak upon the point at issue. " With re- 
spect to the title of bishop, I know that Mr. Wesley enjoined the 
doctor and his associates, and in the most solemn manner, that it 
should not be taken. In a letter to Mrs. Gilbert, the widow of 
the excellent Nathaniel Gilbert, Esq., of Antigua, a copy of 
which now lies before me, he states this in the strongest manner. 


" In this and every deviation, I cannot be the apologist of Dr. 
Coke, and I can state, in contradiction to all Dr. Whitehead and 
Mr. Hampson have said, that Mr. Wesley never gave his sanc- 
tion to any of these things; nor was he the author of one line of 
all that Dr. Coke published in America on this subject. His 
views, on these points, were very different from those of his zeal- 
ous son in the gospel. He knew that a work of God neither 
needed, nor could be aided, nor could recommend itself to pious 
minds by such additions." (Moore's Life of Wesley.) 

The preceding testimony of Mr. Moore, Mr. Wesley's biogra- 
pher, is to the point. It shows conclusively that Mr. Wesley 
did oppose the pretensions of " Dr. Coke and his associates " to 
the episcopacy, and consequently the terms, "episcopacy," " epis- 
copal," and " bishop," so far as they are applied to the Methodist 
Church, are purely of American invention. 

The "setting apart of Dr. Coke as superintendent," and the 
events that grew out of it, produced much dissatisfaction amongst 
the warmest friends and most ardent admirers of Mr. Wesley. 
Different views have been taken by many, with regard to the 
motives that influenced his actions, and prompted him to pursue 
the course so much deplored by his friends. At this period he 
was far advanced in life, being in his eighty-second year, a period 
of life in which the counsels and influence of others would most 
likely succeed in warping him aside from a policy to which he 
had long adhered, or cause him to abandon the well cherished 
principles of earlier days. His brother, Mr. Charles Wesley, 
speaking of this step says: 

" 'Twas age that made the breach, not he." 

History seems to be silent, or at least ambiguous, with regard 
to the individual with whom the scheme originated, to " set 
apart Dr. Coke as a, 'superintendent,'"' yet it appears, with all 
the force of a moral certainty, that after the subject had been en- 
tertained by Mr. Wesley he doubted the propriety of the mea- 
sure. The clergymen who attended the conference at Leeds 
opposed the scheme. 

Says Dr. Whitehead, "Mr. Fletcher was consulted by letter, 
who advised that a bishop should be prevailed upon, if possible, 



to ordain them, (Coke and others,) and then Mr. Wesley might 
appoint them to such offices in the societies as he thought proper, 
and give them letters testimonial of the appointment he had given 
them. Mr. Wesley well knew that no bishop would ordain 
them at his recommendation, and therefore seemed inclined to do 
it himself. In this purpose, however, he appeared so languid, if 
not wavering, that Dr. Coke thought necessary to use some fur- 
ther means to urge him to the performance of it. Accordingly, 
August 9, Mr. Wesley being then in Wales on his way to Bristol, 
the doctor sent him the following letter: 

Honored and Dear Sir, — The more maturely 1 consider the 
subject, the more expedient it appears to me that the power of 
ordaining others should be received by me from you, by the im- 
position of your hands; and that you should lay hands on brother 
Whatcoat and brother Vasey, for the following reasons: 1. It 
seems to me the most scriptural way, and most agreeable to the 
practice of the primitive churches. 2. I may want all the influ- 
ence in America which you can throw into my scale. Mr. 
Brackenbury informed me at Leeds that he saw a letter in Lon- 
don from Mr. Asbury, in which he observed that he would not 
receive any person deputed by you with any part of the superin- 
tendency of the work invested in him, or words which evidently 
implied so much. I do not find any, the least degree of prejudice 
in my mind against Mr. Asbury, on the contrary a very great 
love and esteem, and am determined not to stir a finger without 
his consent, unless mere sheer necessity obliges me, but rather to 
lie at his feet in all things. But as the journey is Jong, and you 
cannot spare me often, and it is well to provide against all events, 
and an authority formally received from you will (I am conscious 
of it) be fully admitted by the people, and my exercising the office 
of ordination without that formal authority may be disputed, if there 
be any opposition on any account ; I would therefore earnestly 
wish you would exercise that power in this instance, which I have 
not the shadow of a doubt but God hath invested you with for the 
good of our connexion. 1 think you have tried me too often to 
doubt whether 1 will in any degree use the power you are pleased 
to invest me with, further than I believe is absolutely necessary for 
the prosperity of the work. 3. In respect of my brethren (bros. 



What coat and Vasey), it is very uncertain indeed -whether any of 
the clergy mentioned by brother Rankin will stir a step in the 
work, except Mr. Jarrett ; and it is by no means certain that even 
he will choose to join me in ordaining ; and propriety and universal 
practice make it expedient that I should have two presbyters with 
me in this work. In short, it appears to me that every thing 
should be prepared, and every thing proper be done, that can pos- 
sibly be done this side the water. You can do all this in Mr. 

C n's house, in your chamber ; and afterwards (according to 

Mr. Fletcher's advice) give us letters testimonial of the different 
offices with which you have been pleased to invest us. For the 
purpose of laying hands on brothers Whatcoat and Vasey, I can 
bring Mr. C. down with me, by which you will have two pres- 
byters with you. In respect to brother Rankiivs argument, that 
you will escape a great deal of odium by omitting this, it is no- 
thing. Either it will be known or not known; if not known, then 
no odium will arise ; but if known, you will be obliged to ac- 
knowledge that 1 acted under your direction, or suffer me to sink 
under the weight of my enemies, with perhaps your brother at 
the head of them. 1 shall entreat you to ponder these things. 
Your most dutiful, T. Coke. 

This letter affords matter for several observations, both of the 
serious and comic kind; but I shall not indulge myself on the oc- 
casion it so fairly offers. The attentive reader who examines 
every part of it, will be at no loss to conjecture to whose in- 
fluence we must impute Mr. Wesley's conduct in the present 

" That Mr. Wesley should suffer himself to be so far influenced 
in a matter of the utmost importance, both to his own character 
and to the societies, by a man of whose judgment in advising, 
and talents in conducting any affair, he had no very high opinion, 
is truly astonishing, but so it was ! Mr. Wesley came to Bristol, 
and September 1, every thing being prepared as proposed above, 
he complied with the doctor's earnest wish, by consecrating him 
one of the bishops, and Messrs. Whatcoat and Yasey presbyters of 
the new Methodist Episcopal Church in America."* 

*See Whiteheads Life of Wesley, vol. ii. pp. 255-6. 


Dr. Coke was ordained in the manner, and at the place,, and 
under the circumstances suggested and insisted upon in his letter 
to Mr. Wesley. Can any one who has read, the account, for a 
moment doubt with regard to the identity of the prime mover in 
this strange procedure ? We find Dr. Coke petitioning for the 
office, and setting forth the steps that might be taken in bestow- 
ing that office upon him. In the next place, we find Mr. Wesley 
granting the asked for boon, according to the request of the peti- 
tioner, and Dr. Coke is set apart as a " superintendent." Up to 
this period the term " bishop," had not been applied to Dr. Coke. 
It was reserved to himself to take the initiative in the use of that 
term. Mr. Wesley has been much censured by his friends for 
the steps he took in the ordination or consecration of Dr. Coke, 
and by none more so than by his brother, Charles Wesley. 

Dr. Whitehead, one of Mr. Wesley's biographers, in speaking of 
the ordination of Dr. Coke, uses the following language: "But 
Mr. Wesley was never publicly elected by any presbyters and 
people to the office of a bishop ; nor ever consecrated to it; which 
made his brother Charles say : 

• So easily are bishops made, 

By man's or woman's whim ; 
Wesley his hands on Coke hath laid, 

But who laid hands on him ?' 

The answer is, no body. His episcopal authority was a mere 
gratuitous assumption of power to himself, contrary to the usage 
of every church, ancient or modern, where the order of bishops 
has been admitted. There is no precedent either in the New Tes- 
tament or in church history that can justify his proceeding in 
this affair. And as Mr. Wesley had received no right to exercise 
episcopal authority, either from any bishops, presbyters, or peo- 
ple, he certainly could not convey any right to others : his ordi- 
nations, therefore, are spurious and of no validity. 

" Nor can Mr. Wesley's practice of ordaining be justified by 
those reasons which Presbyterians adduce in favor of their own 
method of ordaining to the ministry ; for Mr. Wesley ordained 
not as a presbyter, but as a bishop ! his ordinations, therefore, 
were not presbyterian, nor will the arguments for presbyterian 
ordination apply to them. 


"Let us review the arguments on this subject, reduced to a few- 
propositions : 1. Mr. Wesley, in ordaining or consecrating Dr. 
Coke a bishop, acted in direct contradiction to the principle upon 
which he attempts to defend this practice of ordaining at all. 2. 
As Mr. Wesley was never elected or chosen by any church to be 
a bishop, nor ever consecrated to the office, either by bishops or 
presbyters, he had not the shadow of right to exercise episcopal 
authority in ordaining others, according to the rules of any church 
ancient or modern. 3. Had he possessed the proper right to 
ordain, either as a bishop or presbyter, (though he never did ordain 
as a presbyter,) yet his ordinations, being done in secret, were 
rendered thereby invalid and of no effect, according to the estab- 
lished order of the primitive church, and of all Protestant 

Mr. Charles Wesley, who had walked hand in hand as it were 
with his brother John, condemned in severe terms his policy and 
conduct, as well as the " ambitious pursuits " of Dr. Coke, as the 
following extract of a letter from him will show : 

" I must not leave unanswered your surprising question, 'What 
then are you frightened at ?' At the doctor's rashness and your 
supporting him in his ambitious pursuits — at an approaching 
schism as causeless and unprovoked as the American rebellion 
— at your own eternal disgrace, and all those frightful evils which 
your reasons describe. 'If you will go hand in hand with me, 
do.' I do go, or rather creep on in the old way in which we set 
out, and trust to continue in it until I finish my course. 'Perhaps 
if you had kept close to me, I might have done belter.' When^you 
took that fatal step at Bristol, 1 kept as close to you as close could 
be; for I was all the time at your elbow. You might certainly 
have done better if you had taken me in to be one of your council. 

" I thank you for your intention to remain my friend. Herein 
my heart is as your heart. Whom God hath joined let no man 
put asunder. We have taken each other for better for worse, 
till death do us part ?— no, but eternally unite. Therefore, in the 
love which never faileth, I am, 

" Your affectionate friend and brother, C. Wesley." 

* See Whitehead's Life of Wesley, vol. ii, p. 269. 


We will now follow Dr. Coke to America, and notice his 
movements in this country in reference to his new station as su- 
perintendent. Jesse Lee says, in his history of the Methodists: 

"As soon as Dr. Coke landed in America, he laid his plan to 
meet Mr. Asbury as soon as possible, and traveling from New 
York to Philadelphia, and then down into the Delaware state, he 
met with Mr. Asbury at Barret's chapel on the 14th of the same 
month. They then consulted together about the plan which Mr. 
Wesley had adopted and recommended to us. After the business 
was maturely weighed, and sufficient time was taken to consult 
some more of the preachers who were present on that day, it was 
judged advisable to call together all the traveling preachers in a 
general conference, to be held at Baltimore, at Christmas. 

"Mr. Freeborn Garrison undertook to travel to the south, in 
order to give notice to all the traveling preachers of this intended 
meeting. But being fond of preaching by the way, and thinking 
he could do the business by writing, he did not give timely notice 
to the preachers.'who were in the extremities of the work, and of 
course several of them were not at the conference. 

"December 27th, 1784. — The thirteenth conference began in 
Baltimore, which was considered to be a General Conference, in 
which Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury presided. 

"At this conference we formed ourselves into a regular church, 
by the name of the Methodist Episcopal Church, making at the 
same time the episcopal office elective, and the elected superin- 
tendent amenable to the body of ministers and preachers." 

From this statement of Mr. Lee it is evident that only a small 
attendance of the preachers was had at the Baltimore Conference 
when the organization of the " Methodist Episcopal Church" 
took place. 

Mr. Asbury in his journal says, " Friday, 24th (December), 
rode to Baltimore, where we met a few preachers ; it was agreed 
to form ourselves into an episcopal church, with superintendents, 
elders and deacons. When the conference was seated, Dr. Coke 
and myself were unanimously elected to the superintendency of 
the church. We were in great haste, and did much business in a 
little time?'' 

It is exceedingly strange that this body of men, convened for 



the purpose of transacting business of such vast importance to the 
spiritual interests of thousands, should act in such " great haste." 
But perhaps these two Britons, Coke and Asbury, in order that 
their favorite plans might be adopted in that body, found it most 
expedient, as the presiding officers of the conference, to do " much 
business in a little time." 

We shall here introduce another witness who was present at 
the Baltimore Conference of 1784, viz: Rev. James O'Kelley. 
This distinguished minister in his "Apology" speaks thus: 

" And it came to pass in the year of our Lord 1784, in the 
twelfth month, the traveling preachers were called together to the 
great city of Baltimore, to consider the contents of the circular 

" 2. We perceived the counsel given in the circular letter to be 
good ; because we are directed to follow the Scriptures and the 
primitive church ; and to stand fast in our liberties, seeing we 
were free from the power of kings and bishops. Amen. 

" 3. The conference unanimously agreed to separate from the 
Church of England ; and therefore we formed our religious socie- 
ties into an independent church. The title was the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. 

" 4. The term episcopacy did not set well on the minds of some, 
seeing Mr. Wesley assured us it was not apostolic. But Thomas 
explained it away, by that indefinitive term ' Methodist Episco- 
pacy.' We had episcopacy but no bishop. 

" 5. Thomas and Francis were our superintendents, as presiding 
elders, according to John's appointment. But they were not 
elected by the suffrage of conference, although it is so written in 
the book of Discipline." 

We have now introduced two witnesses who attended the Bal- 
timore Conference of 1784, when the organization of the M. E. 
Church took place. Mr. Asbury says, "we were in great 
haste and did much business in a little time" Mr. James 
O'Kelley says, "Thomas and Francis were our superintendents, 
as presiding elders, according to John's (Wesley's) appointment. 
But they were not elected by the suffrage of conference, although 
it is so written in the book of Discipline." Here Mr. O'Kelley 
joins issue with what is recorded in the book of Discipline. And 


we think his assertions in this case worthy of alJ credit, as he 
was present at the Baltimore Conference, and was ordained to 
the office of elder during its session, and maintained a character 
of spotless purity until death. He declares that Dr. Coke and 
Francis Asbury were not elected to their offices, as superinten- 
dents of the church, by the suffrages of the conference. We have 
also introduced Rev. Jesse Lee, who (ihere being no evidence 
that we can gather of his being at the Baltimore Conference of 
1784) says, "Mr. Asbury was appointed a superintendent by 
Mr. Wesley, yet he would not submit to be ordained, unless he 
could be voted in by the conference : when it was put to vote he 
was unanimously chosen." But there is no evidence that we 
have been able to find in our researches that will go to show that 
Mr. Lee was at that conference, consequently he could not have 
spoken as an eye witness. 

Again, it has been asserted, and with much show of reason and 
truth, that some of the general minutes of the early Methodist 
Conferences have been altered; and if so, it was not an impossi- 
bility for Jesse Lee to learn a different account of the manner in 
which Mr. Asbury came into office from that given by Rev. James 
O'Kelley. For instance, Mr. Lee tells us that at the Conference 
of 1784 the following question and answer were adopted: 

" Q. 2. What can be done in order to the future union of the 
Methodists ? 

" A. During the life of the Rev. John Wesley we acknowledge 
ourselves his sons in the gospel, ready in matters belonging 
to church government to obey his commands," &c. 

And that at the conference of 1787 this engagement was left 
out of the minutes. 

Again, the same author tells us that "in the course of this year 
(1787) Mr. Asbury reprinted the general minutes, but in a differ- 
ent form from what they were before." That they (the superin- 
tendents) gave themselves the title of bishop, in the minutes. That 
" they changed the title themselves without the consent of con- 
ference," &c. 

Now taking this view of the case, we are forced to the natural 
conclusion that inasmuch as those two Britons, who would be 
American bishops, could presume to alter or change the " general 


minutes," the account given by Mr. O'Kelley, who was an eye 
witness, is to be preferred to that of Rev. Jesse Lee. who was 
probably not there ; and that " they (Coke and Asbury) were not 
elected by the suffrage of conference although it is so written in 
the book of Discipline." 

But the reader may inquire, may we not place implicit reliance 
upon the assertion of Mr. Asbury, when he says " Dr. Coke and 
myself were unanimously elected to the superintendency of the 
church ?" To which we reply that Mr. Asbury, in the printed 
general minutes for 1787, left out the term " superintendent," and 
inserted " bishop " in its place, without any authority for doing 
so.* Therefore we come to the conclusion that, if Mr. Asbury 
could allow himself such latitude in the use of terms, it was not 
a difficult affair for him to write down the term or phrase in his 
journal, "unanimously elected," when the plain import of the 
transaction was nothing more than being " unanimously " received 
by the conference as one of the superintendents of the church. 

It will be borne in mind by the reader that Mr. Asbury was 
brought up and educated in " a land of kings and bishops," in 
which elections, according to the common acceptation of that 
word, are not much in vogue ; and consequently, inasmuch as he 
belonged to the British school, his ideas of "election" were not 
of the American mould. It is well known that he was not an 
admirer of "elections," even in the General Conference, and the 
part that he and his friends acted in that body at its session in 
Baltimore, in 1792, in opposition to the measure proposed allow- 
ing the preachers the right of appeal to the conference from the 
appointment of the bishop, if they thought themselves injured by 
his appointment, goes to show his anti-republican feelings. Mr. 
Asbury and his adherents advocated the absolute authority of the 
"one-man-power," the bishop, upon that occasion, and defeated 
the measure proposed. It was the principles laid down and the 
doctrines advanced by Mr. Asbury and his friends, upon this 
occasion, that induced the Rev. William McKendree (afterwards 
bishop), the Rev. James O'Kelley, and several other traveling 
ministers, to withdraw from the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

* See Lee's History of the Methodists, page 128. 


Therefore, under all the circumstances we are fully persuaded 
that the Rev. James 0"Kelley spoke what he knew to be true, 
when he said, " Thomas and Francis were our superintendents, as 
presiding elders, according to John's appointment; but they were 
not elected by the suffrages of conference, although it is so written 
in the book of Discipline." 



Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury assume the title of bishop. — Remarks 
upon the same. — Letter from Mr. Wesley to a friend. — Letter 
from Mr. Wesley to Mr. Asbury, remonstrating with him about 
the title " bishop." — Letter from Dr. Coke to Bishop White of 
Philadelphia, proposing a union of the Methodist and Episcopalian 
Churches. — Letter from Bishop White to one of his friends. 
—Dr. Coke's certificate to the conference. — Dr. Coke's letter 
to Mr. Wilberforce, soliciting the appointment of bishop in 
connexion with the Church of England to India. — Remarks upon 
the foregoing. 

From what has been brought to view in the preceding chapter, 
it is evident that the pretensions of Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury to 
the episcopacy rest upon grounds both strange and unreasonable. 
And if we extend our inquiries still further, we shall discover that 
the position occupied by these two men is such as may well 
excite in the bosom of the reader a sympathetic feeling for some 
of the traits that belong to man's fallen nature. Mr. O'Kelley 
tells us that " about the year 1787 Francis directed the preachers 
whenever they wrote to him to title him bishop. They did 
so: and this was the beginning of our spurious episcopacy." Up 
to this time the title of " bishop " had not been used in the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church ; the two superintendo./s were known 
only as such, but it seems they coveted quite a different title, and 
in order to receive that title, were willing to condescend so low as 
to take the initiative steps themselves. What a humiliating 
thought ! But again we propose to call up another witness to 
testify on this point. Rev. Jesse Lee says : " In the course of 
this year (1787) Mr. Asbury reprinted the general minutes; but 
in a different form from what they were before. * * * * This 
was the first time that our superintendents ever gave themselves 
the title of bishop in the minutes. They changed the title them- 
selves, without the consent of the conference ; and at the next 
conference they asked the preachers if the word bishop might 



stand in the minutes ; seeing it was a Scripture name, and the 
meaning of the word bishop was the same with that of superin- 

"Some of the preachers opposed the alteration, and wished to 
retain the former title ; but a majority of the preachers agreed 
to let the word bishop remain." 

Here, then, we have a concise history of the manner in which 
episcopacy crept into the Methodist Episcopal Church. "Francis 
directed the preachers when they wrote to him to title him bishop! 
This was the first time our superintendents ever gave themselves 
the title of bishop in the minutes. They changed the title them- 
selves without the consent of the conference ! ! .'" Why was this 
donej 1 Were they in truth and in fact bishops, and did the church 
or the conference withhold from them their rightful titles? We 
think not. Was this act of Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury intended 
to promote the prosperity of the church or the cause of Christian- 
ity? Surely it was not. The church had not thought proper to 
call them bishops. The conference had not thought proper to call 
them bishops. Therefore they were not regarded as bishops. 
But they " gave themselves the title of bishop in the minutes," 
" without the consent of the conference " Again, " at the next 
conference they asked the preachers if the word bishop might 
stand in the minutes;" thus was the favor asked, and thus the 
much loved object gained. What a charm there must have been 
in that name ! Is not this without a parallel in all ecclesiastical 
history ? Where shall we find upon record a transaction amongst 
the ministers of Protestant churches that exhibits so much of the 
spirit of arrogance and of self-elevation ? But however pleasing 
this title may have been to the fancy of these two Englishmen, it 
appears from the testimony that we shall hereafter introduce in its 
proper place, that Dr. Coke, at least, whom we shall designate as 
the father of Methodist episcopacy, was far, very far from being 
satisfied with his claims to legality in the episcopal office. 

The conference of 1784 had adopted the following as one of 
their binding rules : "During the life of the Eev. Mr. Wesley, 
we acknowledge ourselves his sons in the gospel, ready in mat- 
ters belonging to church government to obey his commands;" and, 
strange to relate, the conference of 1787, which granted the 


request of Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury, that the word " bishop " 
might stand upon the minutes in the room of " superintendent," 
left off from their printed minutes this solemn acknowledgment 
and obligation entered into. What could have been the motives 
that led to this act? Was it not feared that his influence or au- 
thority over the preachers would operate against the new-horn 
episcopacy of the two superintendents? But this is not all ; for 
we find from various sources of high and unquestionable author- 
ity, that the name of the Rev. Mr. Wesley was also left off the 
minutes of conference at the same time. In order to give the 
reader an idea of the feelings of the venerable Wesley under such 
treatment from those of whom he had a right to expect better 
things, we shall insert a copy of an extract of a letter written by 
Mr. Wesley to Rev. Beverly Allen, and first published by Rev. 
Wm. Hammett of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1792. 

London, October 31st, 1789. 

My Dear Brother, — The point you desire my thoughts 
upon is doubtless of no common importance. And I will give 
you my settled thoughts concerning it without the least disguise 
or reserve. Indeed this has been always my manner of speaking 
when I speak of the things of God. It should be so now in par- 
ticular, as these may probably be the last words that you will 
receive from me. 

It pleased God sixty years ago, by me, to awaken and join 
together a little company in London, whence they spread through- 
out the land. Sometime after I was much importuned to send 
some of my children to America, to which I cheerfully consented. 
God prospered their labors; but they and their children still es- 
teemed themselves one family, no otherwise divided than as 
Methodists on one side of the Thames are divided from the other. 
I was therefore a little surprised when I received some letters from 
Mr. Asbury, affirming that no person in Europe knew how to 
direct those in America. Soon after he flatly refused to receive 
Mr. Whatcoat in the character I sent him. 

He told George Shadford, " Mr. Wesley and I are like Caesar 
and Pompey, — he will bear no equal, and I will bear no superior." 
And accordingly he quietly sat by, until his friends, by common 



consent, voted my name out of the American minutes. This 
completed the matter and showed he had no connection with 

Who can read this account given by Mr. Wesley of the treat- 
ment he had received at the hands of Mr. Asbury, and not feel 
fully convinced of the force of the truth, that Mr. Wesley's will 
and authority had been most ungratefully discarded by those very 
persons from whom he had a right to expect better treatment ? 

But it must be borne in mind by the reader that Dr. Coke and 
Mr. Asbury were now wearing the title, of bishop, and as Mr. 
Wesley professed to be nothing more than " a presbyter of the 
Church of England," they very possibly concluded that he was 
quite an improper person to have any connection with, or au- 
thority over them, being bishops of the Methodist Episcopal 

From the documents and authorities which we have introduced 
we can plainly perceive the improper, illegal and unjustifiable 
manner in which episcopacy was foisted upon the Methodist 
Church in America. These authorities are so plain and positive 
in their statements, and so respectable as to character, that we are 
not permitted to doubt. Yet the authorities of the M. E. Church 
tell us that the episcopacy is derived from Mr. Wesley, that he 
is the author of it. Rev. H. B. Bascom in his " Review of the 
Manifesto' of the Majority," tells us " the full validity of our 
episcopacy as exclusively derivedfrom Wesley must be admitted or 
we have noneVf In reply to this proposition of Dr. Bascom, we 
assume the ground that if the Methodist Episcopal Church 
derived a "valid episcopacy exclusively from Mr. Wesley," no 
man could have had a more certain knowledge of it than Mr. 
Wesley himself, nor would any man upon earth have been more 
free to confess and declare the same. He was a man that kept 
but few secrets. Mr. Charles Wesley, in writing to a friend 
about his brother John, uses the following language, "You ex- 
pect he will keep his own secrets ! Let me whisper it into your 
ear, he never could doit since he was born. It is a gift which God 

* See Defence of Truth by Rev. A. McCaine, pp. 98-9. 
f Review of the Manifesto of the Majority, p. 133 



has not given me."* Therefore we assume the position that " the 
full validity of Methodist episcopacy" never has been, and never 
can be proved by any act or acknowledgment on the part of Mr. 
Wesley; but the vanity and nothingness of the thing, as well as 
the unreasonable and improper pretensions and claims of Dr. 
Coke and Mr. Asbury to the title of li bisliop," by the declarations 
of Mr. Wesley over his own proper name, we regard as being 
easily established. 

Soon after the transactions that look place in the conference of 
1787 became known in England, and Mr. Wesley was fully 
apprised that Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury had so arranged matters 
in America, and that they were wearing the dignified and prelatical 
title of "bishop," he wrote to Mr. Asbury the following letter: 

London, September 20, 1788. 
There is indeed a wide difference between the relation wherein 
you stand to the Americans and the relation wherein 1 stand to 
all the Methodists. You are the elder brother of the American 
Methodists; I am under God the father of the whole family. 
Therefore I naturally care for you all in a manner no other person 
can do. Therefore f in a measure provide for you all ; for the 
supplies which Dr. Coke provides for you, he could not provide 
were it not for me — were it not that I not only permit him to col- 
lect, but support him in so doing. 

But in one point, my dear brother, I am a little afraid both the 
doctor and you differ from me. 1 study to be little, you study to 
be great. I creep ; you strut along. I found a school ; you a 
college. Nay, and call it after your own names ! 0, beware ! 
Do not seek to be something! Let me be nothing, and Christ be 
all in all. 

One instance of this your greatness has given me great con- 
cern. How can you, how dare you suffer yourself to be called a 
bvshojy? I shudder, I start at the very thought. Men may call 
me a knave, or a fool, a rascal, a scoundrel, and I am content; but 
they shall never by my consent call me a bishop! For my sake, 
for God's sake, for Christ's sake, put a full end to this ! Let the 
Presbyterians do what they please, but let the Methodists know 
their calling better. 

* Whitehead's Life of Wesley, vol. ii, p. 227. 



Thus, my dear Franky, I have told you all that is in my heart; 
and let this, when I am no more seen, bear witness how sincerely 
I am your affectionate friend and brother.* 

John Wesley. 

Can any man suppose that the pious and venerable Wesley, of 
morals so pure, of intentions so upright, could thus address one 
whom he regarded as a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in a valid or legitimate sense ? Never; no, never. Can any one 
believe that Mr. Wesley would appoint or ordain Coke and 
Asbury bishops in the church, and then say to them, " men may 
call me a knave, or a fool, a rascal, a scoundrel, and 1 am content; 
but they shall never by my consent call me a bishop ?" Surely 
not. That illustrious man, who was great in goodness, could not 
be guilty of such inconsistency and impropriety of conduct. His 
letter to Mr. Asbury is a sharp one. He saw the effort on the 
part of the two superintendents to elevate themselves in the 
church, by departing from what he conceived to be the sphere of 
duty and propriety; and as the case was a desperate one, the 
honest, frank and sharp rebuke contained in the preceding letter, 
was the remedy he saw proper to offer. Therefore we arrive at 
the conclusion, from the language of the letter above, that " the 
full validity of episcopacy, as exclusively derived from Mr. 
Wesley," is not to be found in the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
If Mr. Wesley had created Dr. Coke a " bishop," it would have 
been folly in the extreme for him to say to Mr. Asbury, 
" for my sake, for God's sake, for Christ's sake, put a full end to 
this." But, ah! the much-loved title was not put away. 

From Lee's History of the Methodists we learn that in the 
year 1789 "the bishops introduced a question into the annual 
minutes which was as follows: 

|; " Q. Who are the persons that exercise the episcopal office in 
the Methodist Church in Europe and America ? 

" A. John Wesley, Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury, hy 
regular order and succession." 

The reader will bear in mind that in 1787 the name of Mr. 
Wesley had been left out of the minutes, and no reason assigned 

*See Moore's Life of Wesley, vol. ii, p. 285. 


for the same. And we now find his name two years afterwards 
restored to the minutes as one of the persons filling or exercising 
the episcopal office in Europe and America. The fallacy of this 
declaration is obvious, and the inconsistency involved is most 
glaring, when we recall to mind the declarations of Mr. Wesley 
to Mr. Asbury the preceding year: — " Men may call me a knave, 
a fool, a rascal, a scoundrel, and I am content; but they shall 
never, by my consent, call me a bishop !" and added, " For my 
sake, for God's sake, for Christ's sake, put a full end to this!" 
Strange to relate, these two Britons, with these declarations of 
Mr. Wesley as it were still ringing in their ears, after having two 
years before left off his name from their minutes, now bring it 
back, and not only reinstate it, but place it u-ith their own in the 
answer to the above question ; and generations to come are to 
understand, from that, that John Wesley was one of the bishops of 
the Methodist Church in Europe and America; a name which he 
held in more abhorrence than he did that of rascal or scoundrel. 

Mr. Lee says : " The bishops introduced this question into the 
minutes;" therefore we are left to understand that the confer- 
ences had no band in the strange affair. As we do not pretend to 
know the heart of any man, we shall not undertake to determine 
the object had in view by these American " superintendents," in 
placing the name of the Rev. John Wesley with theirs as one of 
the bishops of the Methodist Church. It is enough to say it 
suited their purpose, therefore they did it. But perhaps some 
adherent of the ancient order of things might argue, as Dr. Emory 
once did, in order to evade a difficulty, " They did enter him as 
exercising the episcopal office, but they did not entitle him 
bishop." To which we would answer in the language of the 
Rev. A. McCaine, "To deny that Mr. Wesley was a bishop, 
merely because he was only entered ' as exercising the episcopal 
office,' is to deny that Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury were bishops, 
for they were entered in the same way in the same answer. If, 
therefore, it was necessary to constitute Mr. Wesley a bishop to 
enter him by that title, it was equally necessary to enter Dr. Coke 
and Mr. Asbury by that title to constitute them bishops." * 

* Defence of the Truth, page 114. 


From the testimony which we have produced and Jaid down 
upon the preceding pages of this chaper, it must be apparent to 
every candid reader that the Rev. John Wesley can with no de- 
gree of fairness be called the author or father of American Meth- 
odist Episcopacy. And as Dr. Coke is said to be the first born 
son in that line, we shall now proceed to show that even he 
placed very little if any confidence in his claims to the legality of 
his birthright — the episcopacy. 

Messrs. Coke and Asbury might state, as they had set forth in 
the Annual Minutes of 1789, that the persons "who exercised 
episcopal office in Europe and America were John Wesley 
Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury, by regular order and succes- 
sion;" but knowing, as he well did, the firmness with which Mr. 
Wesley repudiated all such pretensions and claims to the title of 
" bishop," and as he professed to derive his claims to that office 
upon Mr. Wesley's authority, he had ample reasons for becoming 
dissatisfied with the validity of his " title," which was as unsub- 
stantial as a " gilded toy," according to the principles laid down 
and the definitions given by the best writers upon ecclesiastical 
usages. Early in the year 1791 Dr. Coke opened a correspond- 
ence with Bishop White, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 
who was then a resident at Philadelphia. The object proposed 
in his correspondence was a union of the Methodist with the 
Protestant Episcopal Church ; the re-ordination of the ministers 
who had been ordained by himself and Mr. Asbury; "there was 
also suggested by him a propriety, but not a condition made, of 
admitting to the episcopacy himself and the gentleman associated 
with him in the superintendence of the Methodist societies." As 
this correspondence of Dr. Coke with the bishop is calculated to 
throw much light upon the subject, with regard to the views he 
entertained of his ordination to the episcopacy, we shall transcribe 
his letter. 

Right Reverend Sir, — Permit me to intrude a little upon 
your time, upon a subject of great importance. 

You, I believe, are conscious that I was brought up in the 
Church of England, and have been ordained a presbyter of that 
church, For many years 1 was prejudiced, even I think to bigotry, 


in favor of it; but through a variety of causes and incidents, to 
mention which would be tedious and useless, my mind was ex- 
ceedingly biased on the other side of the question. In consequence 
of this, I am not sure but I went further in the separation of our 
church in America than Mr. Wesley, from whom I had received 
my commission, did intend. He did indeed solemnly invest me, 
as far as he had a right so to do, with episcopal authority, but 
did not intend, I think, that our entire separation should take 
place. He being pressed by our fiiends on this side the water 
for ministers to administer the sacraments to them, (there being 
very few clergy of the Church of England in the states,) went 
farther, I am sure, than he ivould have gone, if he had foreseen 
some events which followed. And this I am certain of — that he is 
now sorry for the separation. 

But what can be done for a reunion, which I wish for, and to 
accomplish which, Mr. Wesley, I have no doubt, would use his 
influence to the utmost? The affection of a very considerable 
number of the preachers and most of the people, is very strong 
towards him, notwithstanding the excessive ill usage he received 
from a few. My interest also is not small; and both his and 
mine would readily, and to the utmost, be used to accomplish that 
(to us) very desirable object ; if a readiness were shown by the 
bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church to re- unite. 

It is even to your church an object of great importance. We have 
now above 60,000 adults in our society in these states ; and about 
two hundred and fifty traveling ministers and preachers ; besides a 
great number of local preachers, far exceeding the number of travel- 
ing preachers, and some of these local preachers are men of very 
considerable abilities; but if we number the Methodists as most 
people number the members of their church, viz — by the families 
which constantly attend the divine ordinances in theirplaces of wor- 
ship, they will make a larger body than you possibly conceive. 
The society, I believe, may be safely multiplied by five on an aver- 
age, to give us our stated congregations, which will then amount to 
300,000. And if the calculation, which I think some eminent 
writers have made, be just, that three-fifths of mankind are unadult, 
(if I may use the expression,) at any given period, it will follow 
that all the families, the adults, which form our congregations in 
these states amount to 750,000. About one-fifth of these are blacks. 


The work now extends in length from Boston to the south 
of Georgia; and in breadth, from the Atlantic to Lake Champlain, 
Vermont, Albany, Redstone, Holstein, Kentucky, Cumberland, &c. 

But there are many hindrances in the way. Can they be re- 
moved ? 

[ 1. Our ordained ministers will not, ought not to give up their 
right of administering the sacraments. I do not think that the 
generality of them, perhaps none of them, would refuse to submit 
to a reordination, if other hindrances were removed out of the way. 
I must here observe that between sixty and seventy only, out of 
the two hundred and fifty, have been ordained presbyters, and about 
sixty deacons (only.) The presbyters are the choicestof the whole. 

2 The preachers would hardly submit to re-union if the pos- 
sibility of their rising up to ordination depended upon the present 
bishops in America. Because, though they are all, I think 1 may 
say, zealous, pious, and very useful men, yet they are not ac- 
quainted with the learned languages. Besides they would argue, 
if the present bishops would waive the article of the learned lan- 
guages, yet their successors might not. 

My desire of a re-union is so sincere and earnest, that these 
difficulties make me tremble; and yet something must he done 
before the death of Mr. Wesley, otherwise I shall despair of success; 
for though my influence among the Methodists in these States, as 
well as in Europe, is 1 doubt not increasing, yet Mr. Asbury 
whose influence is very capital, will not easily comply ; nay, I know 
he icill be exceedingly averse to it. 

In Europe, where some steps had been taken tending to a sepa- 
ration, all is at an end. Mr. Wesley is a determined enemy of it, 
and 1 have lately borne an open and successful testimony against it. 

Shall I be favored with a private interview with you in Phila- 
delphia? 1 shall be there, God willing, on Tuesday, the 17th of 
May. tf this be agreeable, I'll beg of you just to signify it in a 
note directed to me at Mr. Jacob Baker's, merchant, Market 
street, Philadelphia; or if you please by a few lines sent me by 
the return of the post, at Philip Rogers', Esq., in Baltimore, from 
yourself or Dr. Magaw; and I will wait upon you with my 
friend Dr. Magaw. We can then enlarge upon the subjects. 

I am conscious of it that secrecy is of great importance in the 


present state of the business, till the minds of you, your brother 
bishops, and Mr. Wesley, be circumstantially known. I must 
therefore beg that these things be confined to yourself and Dr. 
Magaw, till 1 have the honor of seeing you. 

Thus you see that I have made a bold venture on your honor 
and candor, and have opened my whole heart to you on the 
subject as far as the extent of a small letter will allow me. If 
you put equal confidence in me, you will find me candid and 

I have notwithstanding been guilty of inadvertences. Very 
lately I found myself obliged (for the pacifying of my conscience) 
to write a penitential letter to the Rev. Mr. Jarrett, which gave 
him great satisfaction ; and for the same reason I must write 
another to the Rev. Mr. Pettigrew. 

When I was last in America, I prepared and corrected a great 
variety of things for our magazine, indeed almost every thing 
that was printed, except some loose hints which I had taken of 
one of my journeys, and which I left in my hurry with Mr. As- 
bury, without any correction, entreating him that no part of them 
might be printed which could be improper or offensive. But 
through great inadvertency (I suppose) he suffered some reflec- 
tions on the characters of the two above mentioned gentlemen to 
be inserted in the magazine, for which I am very sorry ; and 
probably shall not rest till I have made my acknowledgments 
more public — though Mr. Jarrett does not desire it. 

I am not sure whether I have not also offended you, sir, by 
accepting one of the offers made me by you and Dr. Magaw of 
the use of one of your churches, about six years ago, on my first 
visit to Philadelphia, without informing you of our plan of sepa- 
ration from the Church of England. If 1 did offend, (as I doubt 
I did, especially from what you said to Mr. Richard Dallam of 
Abingdon,) I sincerely beg yours and Dr. Magaw' ; pardon. I'll 
endeavor to amend. But, alas ! I am a frail, weak creature. 

I will intrude no longer at present. One thing only I will 
claim from your candor: that if you have no thought of improv- 
ing this proposal, you will burn this letter and take no more 
notice of it, (for it would be a pity to have us entirely alienated 
from each other, ii we cannot unite in the manner my ardent 


wishes desire,) but if you will further negotiate business, I will 
explain my mind still more fully to you on the probabilities of 

In the meantime permit me, with great respect, to subscribe 
myself, right reverend sir, 

Your very humble servant in Christ, 

Thomas Coke. 
The Rt. Rev. Father in God, Bishop White. 
Richmond, April 24, 1791. 
P. S. You must excuse interlineations, &c. I am just going 
into the country and have no time to transcribe. 

Dr. Coke in this letter to Bishop White having proposed an in- 
terview with that gentleman, accordingly waited upon him, upon 
his arrival in Philadelphia. The substance of the conversation 
that passed between them has been given to the world in a letter 
from Bishop White to one of his friends. The following is an 

Philadelphia, July 30, 1804. 
Reverend Sir: 

In the spring of the year 1791, I received a letter from Dr. 
Coke, on the subject of uniting the Methodist Society with the 
Protestant Episcopal Church. An answer was returned. In con- 
sequence of which, Dr. Coke, on his coming to town made me a 
visit, having not then received my letter, but having heard that 1 
had written. Our conversation turned chiefly on the aforesaid 
subject. The general outlines of Dr. Coke's plan were a re- 
ordination of the Methodist ministers, and their continuing under 
the superintendence then existing, and on the practices of their 
peculiar institutions. There was also suggested by him a pro- 
priety, but not a condition made, of admitting to the episcopacy, 
himself and tht!. gentleman associated with him in the superin- 
tendence of the Methodist societies. This intercourse was com- 
municated at that time from Dr. Coke to Dr. Magaw. I do not 
know of any other person then informed of it, unless I may ex- 
cept the gentleman above alluded to, by whom, if I have been 
rightly informed, my letter to Dr. Coke was opened in his ab- 
sence; such a freedom being understood, as I supposed, to arise 


out of the connection between the two gentlemen. But for this part 
of the statement I cannot vouch. It was understood between Dr. 
Coke and me that the proposal should be communicated to the 
bishops of the Episcopal Church at the next convention, which 
was to be in September, 1792. in New York. This was accord- 
ingly done. After which 1 perceived no use of further commu- 
nication on the subject ; and 1 have not since seen Dr. Coke, nor 
heard from him, nor written to him. 

It appears to me that the above comprehends either explicitly, 
or by implication, all the points to which your letter leads. It 
w r ould have been more agreeable to me, if no occasion of this 
testimony had occurred ; and it is now given merely to prevent 
the matter being understood otherwise than it really is. 

The above is what I have written to Mr. McClaskey : and I 
remain, &c. &c. Your aliectionate brother, 

William White.* 

From what is brought to light in the two preceding letters of 
Dr. Coke and Bishop White, it is evident that the doctor placed 
no reliance upon the validity of his title to the episcopacy. But 
upon the contrary, the admissions and acknowledgments which 
he makes all go directly to confirm and sustain ihe propositions 
which we have laid down, that John Wesley never constituted 
Dr. Coke a bishop; and that his pretensions to the episcopal 
office, and his founding them upon the authority of Mr. Wesley, 
all amount to a mere nullity. Of this Dr. Coke appears to have 
been fully sensible. 

We now proceed to notice some of the contents of the doctor's 
letter, and in the first place invite attention to this particular sen- 
tence : " He (Wesley) did indeed solemnly invest me, as far as he 
had a right to do so, with episcopal authority, but did not intend, 
I think, that our entire separation should take place." Dr. Coke 
had been brought up in the Church of England, and well under- 
stood the principles laid down in the formulary of that church. 
He also knew that, according to the same, a presbyter had no 

* See History and Mystery of Methodist Episcopacy, by Rev. A. 
McCaine, p. 27. 


"authority" to ordain or consecrate a presbyter to the episcopal 
office. He well knew that Bishop White had been ordained to 
the episcopacy by the proper authorises in England, as laid 
down in the formulary of the established church; that he sub- 
scribed to the doctrines and principles of that formulary: and 
therefore, when Dr. Coke said to Bishop White, "He did indeed 
solemnly invest me, as far as he had a right so to do, with episco- 
pal authority," he as a matter of course well understood and 
believed that the bishop knew the Rev. John Wesley, a presbyter 
of the Church of England, had no authority, whatever, to invest 
any man loilh "episcopal authority,'" and that all such inveslure 
amounted to nothing more than a perfect nullity, and consequently 
could be regarded in no other light. 

Again, the propositions in the letter of Dr. Coke to Bishop 
White, in relation to a union of the Methodist and Protestant 
Episcopal Churches, appear to have been made by the doctor, 
without consulting his colleague, Mr. Asbury, or the traveling 
preachers, or the sosieties, or even Mr. Wesley. 

It was a secret business. None of these were consulted. The 
project originated in his own mind ; and we find him willing to 
transfer the Methodist Church, without consulting either the 
preachers or laity, to the Protestant Episcopal Church. No man 
will presume to assert that Dr. Coke had any authority whatever 
for making the overtures, which he did, to Bishop White. It was 
done without authority. It was done without the knowledge or 
expectation of any of the departments of the church, for they 
expected better things at his hands, and well he might say to the 
bishop, " I am conscious of it that secrecy is of great importance 
in the present state of the business." 

The next thing which we shall notice is that most remarkable 
and striking suggestion which Dr. Coke made in his private in- 
terview with Bishop White. The bishop, enumerating in his 
letter the outlines of the plan of Dr. Coke, says, " There was 
also suggested by him a propriety, but not a condition made, 
of admittiiig to the episcopacy, himself and the gentleman 
associated with him in the superintendence of the Methodist 

Here then we have another tacit acknowledgment on the part 


of the doctor, that he did not regard himself as being invested 
with the functions of a bishop as understood among churchmen. 
In his letter to the bishop he had stated, " I don't think that the 
generality of them, (the ministers,) perhaps none of them, would 
refuse to submit to a re-ordination, if other hindrances were re- 
moved out of the way." These ministers had been ordained by 
Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury, and if they were "bishops," their 
right to ordain others to the ministry according to the practice 
of the English Church was unquestionable. If Dr. Coke 
was willing that these ministers should be re-oidained, it 
was a tacit admission that he and Mr. Asbury had no right to 
ordain, and the reader will bear in mind that the doctor was ac- 
tually making an effort at negotiation for their re-ordination. 
Taking whatever view of this affair we may, we are forced to 
the conclusion that if Dr. Coke regarded himself as a bishop, 
his conduct is passing strange. 

The suggestion of the doctor to the bishop, of the propriety of 
"admitting to the episcopacy " himself and the gentleman asso- 
ciated with him, seems to betray altogether an absence of that 
modesty which should mark the movements of the ministers of 
Christ, and which should certainly pertain to one who professed 
to belong to an order of ministers above that of presbyter. But 
the doctor wished to take rank with the episcopacy, and as prac- 
tical authority suited his views and feelings best — and if we may 
infer from this action of the man, he did not consider himself in 
any valid or ecclesiastical sense of the term a bishop, as under- 
stood by those brought up in the English Church, — and " secrecy 
being important in the present state of the business," and no one 
being ready or prepared to represent his claims to the episcopacy, 
he took the initiative himself. And — shall it be written ? — 
" Bishop" Coke " suggested the propriety of his being admitted 
to the episcopacy." 

Such claims, such pretensions, and such proceedings as we 
have detailed with regard to the introduction of episcopacy into 
the Methodist Church in America, can scarcely find a parallel in 
ecclesiastical history since the reformation. But these projects of 
Dr. Coke all failed. He had declared in his letter to Bishop 
White, that " something must be done before Ike death of Mr. 



Wesley, otherwise I shall despair of success." It had been 
agreed upon between him and Bishop White that his proposal of 
a union between the two churches should be laid before the Pro- 
testant Episcopal Convention which was to convene in New 
York, in September, 1792. The faithful and laborious Wesley 
closed his useful life on the 2d day of March, 1791. The pro- 
ject of Dr. Coke failed. If Mr. Wesley had lived, who was 
strongly attached to the established Church of England, we can- 
not tell what turn affairs might have taken, or what would have 
been the result of Dr. Coke's negotiations. 

The motives that led Dr. Coke to take these steps are hard to 
fathom. He had been in the practice of using high-handed mea- 
sures — such it is presumed as he thought compatible with the 
prerogatives of his episcopal authority, from the beginning of his 
connection with the Methodists in America; and although he 
was recognized by them as " one of the bishops of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church," yet at the conference at Baltimore, in 1787, 
they cut down his episcopal authority to such a degree, that his 
position as a "bishop" was rendered quite anomalous. The Rev. 
Jesse Lee says, " At the Baltimore Conference the preachers 
complained of Dr. Coke, because he had taken upon himself a 
right which they never gave him, of altering the time and place 
of holding our Conference, after it had been settled and fixed on 
at the previous conference. Another complaint was brought 
against him for writing improper letters to some of our preachers, 
such as were calculated to stir up strife and contentions among 

At that time the doctor saw that the preachers were pretty gen- 
erally united against him, he acknowledged his faults, begged 
pardon, and promised not to meddle with our affairs again when 
he was out of the United States. . He then gave in writing a cer- 
tificate to the same purpose, which is as follows : 


I do solemnly engage by this instrument, that I never will, 
by virtue of my office, as superintendent of the Methodist Church, 
during my absence from the United States of 'America, exercise 
any government in the said Methodist Church during my absence 


from the United States. And I do also engage that 1 will exer- 
cise no privilege in the said church when present in the United 
States, except that of ordaining according to the regulations and 
law already existing, or hereafter to be made in the said church, 
and that of presiding when present in conference, and lastly, 
that of traveling at large. 

Given under my hand the second day of May, in the year 1787. 

Thomas Coke. 
Witnesses, John Tunnil, 
John Hagerty, 
Nelson Reed. 

The preachers then agreed to forgive what was past, provided 
this condition should be expressed in the minutes, which was 
done thus: 

" Q. Who are the superintendents of our church for the United 

" A. Thomas Coke (when present in the States) and Francis 

The position in which the preceding certificate which Dr. Coke 
was required to give, and the condition thus expressed in the 
minutes, had placed him, was such that his claims to "episcopal 
authority" may be justly controverted on every side. If Dr. 
Coke was a " bishop" at all, in a proper ecclesiastical sense of 
that term, he was as much a "bishop" when in Europe as he 
was when in the United States. If he had been consecrated a 
"bishop" by the imposition of the hands of the Rev. John Wes- 
ley, as a matter of course, his "episcopal authority" over his 
bishopric was the same, unchanged and unchangeable, wherever 
he was, so long as he held that official station. The Rev. James 
O'Kelley, in giving an account of the transactions that took place 
at this conference, says, " the free people of America were ex- 
ceedingly jealous of the growing body of Methodists, because of 
the European heads;" but we are not aware that such feelings 
could have influenced the conference in its action in the case of 
Dr. Coke. Mr. Asbury likewise was from the same land of 
"bishops and kings," and yet the conference saw proper to "clip 
the wings" of the former as regards the exercise of his " episco- 



pal authority," and at the same time left the other untrammeled 
in the exercise of the functions of his office. But such was the 
character of Methodist Episcopacy in 1787. Such was its char- 
acter in 1791, when Dr. Coke attempted to negotiate with Bishop 
White to effect a union between the Methodist and Protestant 
Episcopal Churches. And yet Dr. Bascom, one of the champions 
of southern Methodism, in speaking of this same " episcopacy," 
uses the following remarkable language: "Not only had the 
General Conference done nothing toward the institution of episco- 
pacy, but even the church had not. Its existence dates back 
before the birth of either. It was the first grand substantive 
arrangement around which all others subsequently clustered and 
assumed organic form."* 

Dr. Bascom has written this remarkable sentence while treat- 
ing of the character of Methodist Episcopacy, "the full validity 
of our episcopacy, as exclusively derived from Wesley, must be 
admitted or we have none." We have already seen, from the tes- 
timony before us, Dr. Coke, whose name stands as the first bora 
in that episcopal line, in his overtures to Bishop White, to all 
intents and purposes, renouncing "the full validity'' of his claims 
to the episcopal office, ill the admissions and overtures which he 
made to that gentleman. Again, we find Dr. Coke, eight years 
afterwards, petitioning the bishop of London to ordain a given 
number of preachers proposed by the British Conference.! How 
does this sound ! What " full validity " do we find set forth in this 
act ? "Bishop" Coke of the Methodist Church, petitions the 
Bishop of London, of the English Church, to ordain "a given 
number" of Methodist preachers ! What is the plain inference 
to be drawn from this transaction ? It is simply this, "Bishop" 
Coke tacitly admits that he had no authority to ordain. Why ? 
Because he was not a " bishop." 

Again we find Dr. Coke in 1813, petitioning some of the most 
eminent and influential British statesmen, who stood high with 
the government, for episcopal orders, and proposing a willingness 
" to renounce all connection with the Methodists if the prince 
regent would only make him bishop for India." If any thing 

* Review of the Manifesto of the Majority, p. 160. 
t See Drew's Life of Dr. Coke, page 288. 


should yet be wanting to satisfy the honest advocates of " Meth- 
odist Episcopacy" that Dr. Coke had no confidence in his own 
claims of episcopacy — that he. was no bishop — and that some 
proceedings, altogether wrong, were had in the formation of the 
government of the M. E. Church, surely the following letter 
will. It is copied from " Wilberforce's Correspondence," vol. 2, 
page 114, and kindly furnished me by my much esteemed friend 
and brother, the Rev. Alexander McCaine. Here is the letter. 

At Samuel Hague's, Esq., Leeds, April 14, 1813. 

Dear and Highlv Respected Sir, — A subject which appears 
to me of great moment lies upon my mind, and yet it is a subject 
of such a delicate nature, that I cannot venture to open my mind 
upon it to any one of whose candor, piety, delicacy and honor I 
have not the highest opinion. Such a character I do indubitably 
esteem you, sir, and as such 1 will run the risk of opening my 
whole heart to you upon the point. 

For at least twelve years, sir, the interests of our Indian em- 
pire have lain very near my heart. In several instances 1 have 
made attempts to open a way for missions to that country, and 
even for my going over there myself, but every thing proved 

The prominent desire of my soul, even from my infancy (I 
may almost say), has been to be useful. Even when I wasadeist 
for part of my time at Oxford, (what a miracle of grace !) useful- 
ness was my most darling object. The Lord has been pleased to 
fix me for about thirty-seven years on a point of great usefulness. 
Myinfluence in the large Wesleyan connexion, the introduction and 
superintendence of our missions in different parts of the globe, 
and the wide sphere opened to me for the preaching of the gospel 
to almost innumerable large and attentive congregations, have 
opened to me a very extensive field for usefulness. Could I but 
close my life in being the means of raising a spiritual church 
in India, it would satisfy the utmost ambition of my soul here 

1 am not so much wanted in our connexion at home as I once 
was. Our " committee of privileges," as we term it, can watch 
over the interests of the body, in respect to laws and government, 


as well in my absence as if I was with them. Our missionary 
committee in London can do the same in respect to missions, and 
would only make them feel their duty more incumbent upon 
them. Auxiliary committees through the nation, (which we 
have now in contemplation,) will amply supply my place in 
respect to raising money. There is nothing to influence me much 
against going to India, but my extensive sphere for preaching the 
gospel. But this I do assure you, sir, sinks considerably in my 
calculation in comparison of the high honor, (if the Lord was to 
confer it upon me in his providence and grace,) of beginning or 
reviving a genuine work of religion in the immense regions of 

Impressed with these views, I wrote a letter about a fortnight 
ago to the earl of Liverpool. I have either mislaid the copy of it 
or destroyed it at the time for fear of its falling into improper 
hands. After an introduction drawn up in the most delicate man- 
ner in my power, I took notice of the observations made by Lord 
Castlereagh in the House of Commons, concerning a religious 
establishment in India connected with the established church at 
home. I then simply opened my situation in the Wesleyan 
connection as 1 have stated to you, sir, above. I enlarged on the 
earnest desire I had of closing my life in India: observing that if 
his royal highness the prince regent and the government should 
think proper to appoint me their bishop in India, I should most 
cheerfully and most gratefully accept the offer. I am sorry I 
have lost the copy of this letter. In my letter to Lord Liverpool 
I observed that I should, in case of my appointment to the 
episcopacy of India, return most fully and faithfully into the 
bosom of the established church, and do every thing in my power 
to promote its interest, and would submit to all such restrictions 
in the fulfilment of my office as the government and bench of 
bishops at home should think necessary. That my prime motive 
was to be useful to the Europeans in India ; and that my second 
(though not the least) was to introduce the Christian religion 
among the Hindoos by the preaching of the gospel and perhaps 
also by the establishment of schools. 

I have not, sir, received an answer. Did I think that the 
answer was either withheld because Lord Liverpool considered 



me as acting very improperly by making the request, I should 
take no farther step in the business. This may be the case, but 
his lordship's silence may have arisen from other motives: on 
the one hand because he did not choose to send me an absolute 
refusal, and on the other hand because he did not see proper, at 
least just now, to give me any encouragement. When I was in 
doubt this morning whether I ought to take the liberty of writing 
to you, my mind became determined on my being informed about 
three hours ago, that in a letter received from you by Mr. Hey, 
you observed that the generality of the House of Commons were 
set against granting any thing of an imperative kind to the Dis- 
senters or Methodists in favor of sending missionaries to India. 
Probably I may err in respect to the exact words which you used. 

I am not conscious, my dear, respected sir, that the least degree 
of ambition influences me in this business. I possess a fortune 
of £1,200 a year, which is sufficient to bear my traveling ex- 
penses, and to enable me to make many charitable donations. I 
have lost two dear wives, and am now a widower. Our leading 
friends through the connection receive me and treat me with the 
utmost respect and hospitality. I am quite surrounded with 
fiiends who greatly love me : but India still cleaves to my heart. 
I sincerely believe that my strong inclinations to spend the re- 
mainder of my life in India originated in the divine will, whilst I 
am called upon to use the secondary means to obtain the end. 

1 have formed an intimate acquaintance with Dr. Buchanan, 
and have written to him to inform him that I shall make him a 
visit in a few days, if it be convenient. From his house 1 intend, 
Deo volante, to return to Leeds for a day, and then set off next 
week for London. The latter end of last November I visited 
him before, at Moat Hall, his place of residence, and a most 
pleasant visit it was to me, and also to him I have reason to 
think. He has been, since I saw him, drinking of the same bitter 
cup of which I have been drinking, by the loss of a beloved wife. 

1 would just observe, sir, that a hot climate peculiarly agrees 
with me. I was never better in my life than when in the West 
Indies, during the four visits I made to that Archipelago, and 
should now prefer the torrid zone as a climate to any part of the 
world. I enjoy in this country, though sixty-five years of age, 



such an uninterrupted flow of health and strength as astonishes 
all my acquaintances. They commonly observe that they have 
perceived no difference in me for these last twenty years. 

I would observe, sir, as I did at the commencement, that I 
throw myself on your candor, piety and honor. If I do not suc- 
ceed in my views of India, and it were known among the 
preachers that 1 had been taking the steps I am now taking, 
(though, from a persuasion that I am in the divine will in so 
doing,) it might more or less affect my usefulness in the vineyard 
of my Lord, and that would very much afflict me. And yet, not- 
withstanding this, 1 cannot satisfy myself without some advances 
in the business. 

I consider, sir, your brother-in-law, Mr. Stephen, to be a man 
of eminent worth. I have a very high esteem for him. ] know 
that his yea is yea, and what he promises he certainly will per- 
form. Without some promise of confidence he might (if he 
were unacquainted with the present business) mention it to 
Mr. , with whom 1 know Mr. Stephen is acquainted. 

I have reason to believe that Lord Eldon had (indeed I am sure 
of it) and probably now has an esteem for me. Lord Sidmouth 
I do think loves me. Lord Castlereagh once expressed to Mr. 
Alexander Knox, then his private secretary in Ireland, his very 
high regard for me; since that time I have had one interview with 
his lordship in London. I have been favored on various occa- 
sions with private and public interviews with Lord Bathurst. I 
shall be glad to have your advice whether I should write letters 
to those noblemen, particularly to the two first, on the present 
subject, or whether I had not better suspend every thing and have 
the pleasure of seeing you in London. I hope I shall have that 
honor. I shall be glad to receive three or four lines from you 
(don't write unless you think it may be of some immediate im- 
portance,) signifying that I may wait on you immediately on 

my arrival in London. If Mr. were acquainted with 

the steps I am taking, he would I am nearly sure call imme- 
diately a meeting of our committee of privileges, and the conse- 
quences might be unfavorable to my influence and consequently 
to my usefulness among the Methodists. But my mind must- be 


eased. I must venture this letter and leave the whole to God, 
and under him, sir, to you. 

With very high respect, my dear sir, your very much obliged, 
very humble, and very faithful servant, 

T. Coke. 

This letter is the most remarkable document of the kind we 
have ever read. When we take into consideration the position 
of its author, his calling and character before the world, we are 
forced to the conclusion that it must stand alone, as having no 
parallel among all the petitions of office-hunters or the seekers 
of promotion and preferment from the civil authorities and 
" powers that be." The doctor's letter to Bishop White was bad 
enough, considering his profession and calling; but this one to 
Mr. Wilberforce is still worse. He sets out in his introduction 
by declaring the prominent and leading desire of his soul to be 
useful, and extolling the great sphere of usefulness in which he 
was then acting, and his influence in the large Wesleyan con- 
nexion. In the next place he brings to view the ease or pro- 
priety with which he could be released from his sphere of use- 
fulness and influence in Europe, and then arrives at the gist of 
the subject, the main point in the grand question, " observing that 
if his royal highness the prince regent and the government 
should think proper to appoint me their bishop in India, I should 
most cheerfully and most gratefully accept of the offer." 

Here we find this " bishop" of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
a second time presenting himself as an applicant for promotion to 
the episcopacy. 

1. He suggested the propriety of his being admitted to the 
episcopacy in the United States, in 1791. 

2. He petitions the British government to appoint him bishop 
to India, in 1813. 

Yet the historical records of the M. E. Church teach us that 
Dr. Coke all this time was " one of the bishops of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church." But the conduct of Dr. Coke contradicts the 
assertion. If he was a " bishop " in his own estimation, he 
never would have petitioned for the appointment of " bishop " 
from any source whatever. But it appears from the actions of 


the man that promotion suited his views of propriety concerning 
himself, and that episcopacy was a "gilded toy" which pleased 
his fancy ; that no possible opportunity therefore was suffered 
to pass unimproved by him by which he might be raised to the 
office of bishop. The preceding letter breathes the spirit of 
vanity, egotism and ambition. He coveted the office of bishop 
and taking his own case into his own hands, laying aside all 
modesty, he becomes a petitioner directly to the British govern- 
ment for the much-loved and long-sought appointment. If he 
had ever received or had been invested with "episcopal authority" 
by Mr. Wesley, it is now forgotten or lost sight of, and the whole 
mind of the man is absorbed in the deep interest which he feels 
in being appointed bishop to India. He does not write as a 
bishop ; he makes no pretensions to such a title or such an office, 
but he is welting that office. His position is that of an applicant 
before those whom he acknowledges to be possessed of the 
power to bestow. And where is the man that can say, in view of 
all these, things, that Dr. Coke had any legal claims to the office 
of " bishop .'" If he was a bishop he would have known it. If 
he had known it he would not have become an applicant for the 
office. The conclusion then is, he was not a " bishop." 

This letter of Dr. Coke to Mr. Wilberforce abounds with the 
most fawning flattery and sycophantic adulation that we have 
ever read. As an American, we declare it altogether unworthy 
of the profession of the man. But it was written in a land of 
"bishops and kings," by one whose education was deeply imbued 
with the spirit of such institutions, and where flattery often 
served, instead of merit, as a passport to promotion. Were it 
not that this letter comes to us through the highly respectable 
channel which it does, " Letters and Correspondence of Mr. Wil- 
berforce," we should hardly be prepared to' receive it. But the 
name and character of Wilberforce do away all suspicion that 
might arise as to the authority of the letter. One peculiar feature 
likewise is to be found in it which belonged to the letter written 
to Bishop White, viz: the injunction of secrecy. 

Dr. Coke was a subject of the king of Great Britain, and his 
views and sentiments no doubt were far from being of the republi- 
can mould. In the part which he took in organizing the govern- 


ment of the M. E. Church the principles of republicanism seem to 
have entered into none of his measures. There was an address 
drawn up and presented to General Washington, president of the 
United States, and signed by Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury, 
as bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which they 
lauded the constitution of the United States, and declared it to be 
•the "admiration of the world." This address bears date "May 
19th, 1789." For signing this address to the president of the 
United States Dr. Coke was charged before the British Confer- 
ence; the sentiments which it set forth being thought by the 
British Conference to be unworthy of a subject of his majesty. 
He was censured for this act by his name being left off the 
minutes for one year. 

From the facts and circumstances which we have narrated, it 
must be evident that the episcopacy which exists in the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church is of a spurious character. We have not 
made it our business in these pages to go into a detailed account 
of the various definitions given of episcopacy by distinguished 
authors who have treated upon the subject, but will simply re- 
mark in this place, that among all the definitions of ecclesiastical 
writers of good authority, not one of them suits Methodist Epis- 
copacy, or rather Methodist Episcopacy does not agree with any 
one of them. 

At the organization of the M. E. Church in 1784, the title of 
superintendent was given to Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury. In the 
general minutes, printed in 1787, the word superintendent was 
left out, and "bishop" inserted, and at the ensuing conference 
that body was asked if the word "bishop" might stand, seeing it 
was a scriptural name. 

At the same time Mr. Wesley's name was left off the minutes. 

Rev. James O'Kelley says, " this cruel act was thought by one 
to hasten the death of dear Wesley. Did not Thomas in behalf 
of Wesley, explode the conduct of Francis before a congregation 
in the city of Baltimore?" — Apology, p. 12. 

In 1788, John Wesley wrote to Mr. Asbury, saying, "men 
may call me a knave, or a fool, a rascal, a scoundrel, and I am 
content; but they shall never by my consent call me a bishop," 

In the year 1791, we find Dr. Coke attempting a negotiation 


with Bishop White of Philadelphia, for a union of the Methodist 
and Protestant Episcopal Churches, and suggesting "the pro- 
priety of himself and the gentleman associated with him" being 
admitted to the episcopacy. 

In 1799, we find Dr. Coke petitioning the bishop of London to 
ordain "a given number" of Methodist preachers, and to all 
intents and purposes, by this act, declares himself no " bishop" 
Again, in 1813, we find Dr. Coke writing letters to Lord Liver- 
pool and Mr. Wilberforce, seeking and soliciting the appointment 
of bishop to India in connection with the established church. 

1. Therefore we arrive at the conclusion that episcopacy was 
foisted upon the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

2. That it assumed its present form and character by degrees, as 
it did also its name. 

3. That John Wesley was not the father of it. 

4. That the laity of the church, not being consulted about it, 
as a matter of course had no hand in its introduction. 

5. That Dr. Coke, the eldest son in this episcopal line, had no 
confidence in his right to exercise episcopal functions. 

6. That Dr. Coke, whilst wearing the title of bishop, was ex- 
tremely anxious to obtain the office and be invested with the 
functions of a bishop. 

7. That the existence of "episcopacy" in the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church has been the cause of all the difficulties and trials 
of any consequence through which she has passed. 

8. That the high claims to authority and power set up for her 
" episcopacy" caused the Rev. William McKendree,* Eev. James 
O'Kelley, together with many other worthy ministers, and a 
large body of the laity to secede from the M. E. Church. 

9. That the same claims of power and prerogative maintained 
by the "episcopacy" led to the expulsion of the reformers from 
the communion of the M. E. Church, and gave rise to the estab- 
lishment of the Methodist Protestant Church. 

10. That it was this same indefinable episcopacy that brought 
about the division between the North and South, and severed the 
Methodist Episcopal Church into two parts in 1844. 

* Afterwards Bishop McKendree. 




The right of the laity to participate in the councils of the church 
examined and vindicated from Scripture. — An examination of the 
steps taken in the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
and the exclusion of the laity from participating in her councils. 
— The justice and propriety of that measure examined. — Remarks 
in vindication of the character of Rev. James O'Kelley. 

Having in the preceding chapters brought to view the surrep- 
titious manner in which episcopacy was introduced into the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, we proceed in the next place to 
notice another striking feature in the polity of that church, 
namely, the exclusion of the laity from the rule-making de- 
partment. Every American citizen is possessed of civil rights. 
He has a voice in making the laws by which he is to be governed. 
By delegated authority be is represented both in the state and 
national legislatures. This is conceded by all to be politically 
right, because the principle is just and good. But should it stop 
here ? We answer, No. Because man most unquestionably has 
his ecclesiastical as well as civil rights. The same principle is 
applicable to church as well as to state. If it is Justin the latter, 
it is not unjust in the former. If the relationship which he sus- 
tains to the state justify his right to the exercise of the elective 
franchise, surely there can be nothing found in the nature of 
right, or of religion, or in the precepts of the gospel, to annul the 
justice or propriety of this principle as applicable to the relation- 
ship which the membership sustain to the church of God. 

This doctrine is admitted and practised by Episcopalians, Pres- 
byterians, Baptists, Lutherans, Congregationalists, and by all the 
Protestant denominations of Christians in the United States with 
the exception of the two divisions of the old hierarchy, viz : the 
"Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States," and the 
"Methodist Episcopal Church South." These two divisions of 
the original establishment formed by Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury, 
with their colleagues, still hold on to " the institutions of the 


fathers" as " they received them from their hands," to the exclu- 
sion of the laity from all participation in the rule-making 
department of the church. The question naturally arises have 
the laity no right to a voice or representation in the department of 
the church in which rules are made for their government? We 
answer in the affirmative, and lay down the proposition that they 
have a right to exercise their suffrage in that department. 

ft is argued by ecclesiastical writers that no particular form of 
church government is laid down in the New Testament. This 
proposition we shall not attempt to controvert, but we do assume 
the position that enough is therein laid down and set forth to 
' show most conclusively that the laity were consulted and did par- 
ticipate in the councils that regulated the affairs of the primitive 
church. To sustain this position we refer, in the first place, to 
the election of the successor of Judas. Acts of the Apostles, 
chap, i, v. 15, it is written, " And in those days Peter stood up 
in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of the names 
together were about a hundred and twenty,)" &c. Peter, in the 
address upon this occasion, did not address apostles alone ; the 
sacred penman tells us he stood up in the midst of the disciples, 
and that their number was about one hundred and twenty. And 
in verse 22 he says, " Beginning Irom the baptism of John, unto 
that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be or- 
dained to be a witness with us of his resurrection." In the fol- 
lowing part of the chapter we are informed that they appointed 
two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and 
Matthias; and that after they had prayed they gave forth their 
lots. In this grave and deeply interesting transaction to the 
primitive church, we find that the eleven apostles were not acting 
alone or independent of the disciples (the Jaity), but the number 
of the names together were about a hundred and twenty; and in 
this election the laity most unquestionably participated with the 

The next passage to which we refer, in order to support our 
position, is to be found, Acts, chapter 6th, verses 2 and 3, and 
relates to the selection of the seven deacons. It reads as follows : 
Then the twelve called the multitude of disciples unto them, 
and said, it is not reason that we should leave the word of God 


and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, look ye out among you 
seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, 
whom we may appoint over this business. In this instance the 
address is made to " the multitude of disciples." The business to 
be transacted was of great importance to the church. It was 
therefore, according to the judgment/)!' the twelve apostles, neces- 
sary and proper for the "multitude of disciples''' (the laity of the 
church) to have a hand in this matter; and as it pertained to 
the affairs of the church, it was laid before them. 

In the 5th and 6th verses we read thus: And the saying pleased 
the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of laith 
and the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, 
and Simon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch, 
whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, 
they laid their hands on them. This account, as stated by the 
sacred writer, clearly establishes the fact that in the first Chris- 
tian church ever established, and which was located at Jerusa- 
lem, the laity participated in the affairs of its government, and 
acted an important and prominent part therein, and that too, by the 
counsel and approbation of the apostles. It was necessary to elect 
officers for the church. The apostles would not arrogate to them- 
selves the right to do this, independent of their Christian brethren 
comprising the membership; this right belonged to the whole 
multitude. The apostles thus conceded it. Upon this principle 
the multitude acted; and the whole transaction goes to demon- 
strate the proposition that the laity in the primitive church were 
not only possessed of, but did actually exercise their suffrage and 
authority in the government of the same. 

We beg leave to refer in the next place to Acts, chapter loth, 
which affords an account of the first church council ever held. 
The result of that council is given in the following words, "Then 
pleased it the aposlles and elders, with the whole church, to send 
chosen men of their own company to Antioch, with Paul and 
Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief 
men among the brethren : and they wrote letters by them after 
this manner: The apostles and elders, and brethren, send greeting 
unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and 
Syria, and Cilicia." (See verses 23 and 24). From the whole 


tenor of the transaction, as recorded in this chapter, it is evident 
that the laity participated in the deliberations of this important 
church council. The terms used by the inspired 'writer clearly 
establish the fact. The words apostles and elders with the whole 
church are very expressive. Beyond the possibility of a doubt, 
the phrase embraces the laity. And the address of the letter sent 
by the messengers chosen by that council, shows most clearly to 
the satisfaction of every unprejudiced mind, that three distinct 
classes of persons, all belonging: to the Christian church, consti- 
tuted the writers of that epistle ; that apostles, elders and brethren 
were all united to give authority and character to the same. Let 
the reader view this transaction of the church council at Jerusa- 
lem in every aspect of which it is susceptible, and the stubborn 
truth is forced upon his mind, that the laity of the church formed 
a part of that council ; that they possessed an indefeasible right 
to participate in the same, and that right is endorsed by apostles 
and elders all co-operating together. 

Although no particular form of church government is laid down 
in the New Testament, yet there is enough set forth and contained 
therein to show to the satisfaction of the honest inquirer after 
truth, that the laity have an iinquestionable right to a participation 
in the councils that relate to the government of the church. And by 
the testimony which we have drawn from holy writ, and the 
arguments adduced therefrom, we hope that we have fully and 
fairly sustained the position laid down in the second page of this 

The truth being clearly established that the laity w T ere possessed 
of ecclesiastical rights and privileges, and participated in the 
affairs that related to the government of the primitive church, the 
injustice and impropriety of the polity adopted by the Methodist 
Episcopal Church upon her organization, in excluding the laity 
from participating or exercising any voice or authority in her rule- 
making department or councils, becomes more apparent and mani- 
festly more absurd. 

There is not the least evidence extant that the moving spirits in 
the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church entertained 
the most remote idea of admitting the laity to exercise any in- 
fluence or participate in any way in the rule-making department. 


Bat on the contrary it is evident that the laity were to be left out 
or excluded, from the simple fact that they were not invited to the 
conference oi 1784 when the church was organized. Rev. Jesse 
Lee, who was a firm advocate of the M. £. Church hierarchy, 
and whose account will not be called in question, writes thus 
about the steps taken in that organization : " As soon as Dr. 
Coke landed in America he laid his plan to meet Mr. Asbury as 
soon as possible, and traveling from New York to Philadelphia 
and then down into Delaware Stale, he met with Mr. Asbury at 
Barrett's chapel, on the 14th of the same month, (November, 1784.) 
They then consulted together about the plan which Mr. Wesley 
had adopted and recommended to us. After the business was 
maturely weighed and sufficient time was taken to consult some 
more of the preachers who were present on that day, it was 
judged advisable to call together all the traveling preachers in 
a general conference to be held in Baltimore at Christmas. Mr. 
Freeborn Garrison undertook to travel to the south, in order to 
give notice to all the traveling preachers of this intended meeting. 
But being fond of preaching by the way, and thinking he could 
do the business by writing, he did not give timely notice to the 
preachers who were in the extremity of the work, and of course 
several of them were not at that conference." (History of the 
Methodists, p. 93.) 

From this account it is evident that Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and 
the few preachers whom they " consulted," had no disposition or 
intention whatever, to permit the Jaity to have any weight or 
take any part in the organization of the Methodist Episcopal 

Our reasons for arriving at this conclusion are these: 

1. Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury determined upon calling together 
none but the preachers upon that occasion. 

2. Mr. Garrison, who undertook to travel to the south, went to 
give notice to the traveling preachers, and not to the laity. 

3. The shortness of the notice given, which was just six weeks 
from the day that Dr. Coke met Mr. Asbury, plainly intimates 
that the laity were not to be consulted. 

4. Not one of the laity took a seat in the General Conference 
of. 1784. But that conference was composed of Dr. Coke, Mr. 



Asbury, and the traveling preachers. Such, then, was the 'com- 
plexion of that conference in which the government of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church received its mould and form. The 
laity had no delegated representative authority in that body; nor 
has a layman ever since been permitted to hold a seat either in a 
General or an Annual Conference of that church. 

The Annual Conferences are composed of the bishops and 
traveling preachers : no layman is permitted to exercise the right 
of taking a seat with them. The General Conference is com- 
posed of the bishops and delegates of the traveling preachers, 
elected by the respective Annual Conferences. These delegates, 
being elected by the itinerant preachers, receive all their delegated 
authority from that source, and consequently are to be viewed 
as the representatives of the traveling preachers alone, or of 
the Annual Conferences from which they have been elected. 
Neither the voice nor the vote of a layman is heard or received 
in this body. And, strange to tell, in this the highest council of 
the church the rules for the government of the laity are made. 
Nor does their exclusion from the right of suffrage stop here. 
In the election of church officers they are without a voice. The 
class-leaders are appointed and the stewards nominated by the 
«« preacher in charge," and the former may be removed by him at 
his pleasure. The trustees who are to hold the church property 
are appointed by him, and come into office through his choice, 
and consequently in the Quarterly Meeting Conference (in which, 
by virtue of his authority to appoint church officers,) he may 
obtain a most preponderating influence; that body being composed 
of the preacher in charge, his assistant, (if he have one,) all the 
local preachers, exhorters, stewards and class-leaders upon the 
circuit. Taking this glance at the principles of the government 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, we ask in all candor, can 
one solitary feature or principle of republicanism be found in 
it ? We think the answer must be no. None can be found. 
Why? Because the laity are altogether excluded from the exer- 
cise of the right of suffrage. And strange as it may appear, we 
have heard it argued, bolh by the ministry and the laity of this 
church, that her system of church government is purely republi- 
can. One argument that we have heard abvanced to support the 



preceding proposition, was nearly in these words, " that the 
membership had a right to petition both the Annual and General 
Conferences; that they did often petition those bodies, that their 
petitions were received, read, and respectfully considered; conse- 
quently .they were represented, and had an influence in those 
bodies." How flimsy the argument! How miserable the subter- 
fuge ! Is it not awell known fact that foreigners sometimes petition 
our national and state legislatures, and that their petitions are 
respectfully treated ? and who, we ask, with any pretensions to 
intelligence or even to sancity, would presume to assert that they 
are represented in such legislatures, when the truth is they have 
neither part nor lot in them ? Again, some of the votaries of the 
Methodist Episcopal hierarchy have endeavored to explain the 
" republicanism " of that church by a process of reasoning quite 
different. They lay down the proposition that the laity make, 
constitute, and appoint the preachers, who make the rules for 
their government. The loonderful argument to support this pro- 
position runs thus: "the laity recommend all persons who are 
candidates for preacher's license to the Quarterly Conference ; 
that without such recommendation they could not obtain license 
or orders; — that all the traveling ministers who have seats in 
an Annual Conference, or are elected to seats in the General 
Conference, once obtained this recommendation from the class 
or society of which he was a member." Such an argument 
should excite our pity; and no doubt the only reason why such 
a one was ever used was this, there was none better to give, and 
a bad argument was better than none. 

But light as it is, suppose we weigh it in the scales of truth. 
When a society recommends a man to the proper authority 
to obtain license to preach, what is the extent or latitude of that 
recommendation ? Is it to become a traveling preacher ? Answer, 
no ; because the authority to which they recommend him, can- 
not constitute him such. Is it to have him ordained to the min- 
istry ? Answer, no; because the authority in question are also 
deficient in that respect. Is it to have him constituted a member 
of an Annual Conference ? Answer, no; because the authority 
to which the society recommend him cannot make him one. 
Does the society then recommend him as a proper person to 



make Jaws or rules for the church? Answer, no; because they 
recommend him only to the Quarterly Conference as a suitable 
person to be licensed to preach. The recommendation goes no 
further; it looks no further. 

1. The person so recommended, when he shall have been ex- 
amined by the proper authorities, may be found deficient in the 
requisite qualifications, and may fail entirely in obtaining license. 

2. The applicant may have no idea of acting in any other 
sphere lhan that of a local preacher, consequently he can never 
take any part in making rules for the church. 

3. The applicant so recommended by his society may obtain 
license to preach, be recommended by the proper authority, the 
Quarterly Conference, as a suitable person to enter the traveling 
connexion, and yet never obtain full standing in the Annual 
Conference, and consequently never become a suitable person to 
exercise any weight or influence in the rule-making department 
of the church. 

Thus it will be perceived that the argument in question 
amounts to nothing. Indeed all those who set up such argu- 
ments seem to forget the fact that when some thousands of the 
members of the M. E. Church petitioned the General Conference 
of 1824, asking that body, in most respectful terms, to adopt such 
measures as would admit the laity to be represented in the law- 
making department of the church ; claiming it as a right and a 
privilege to which they were in justice entitled; they were 
answered in a pastoral address adopted by the conference and 
signed by the bishops, with a "pardon vs, dear brethren, if ice 
know no such riglits, if ive comprehend no such privileges." 

Rev. Jesse Lee, in speaking of the conference that convened 
at Baltimore on the 27th of December, 1784, says, "At this con- 
ference we formed ourselves into a regular church, by the name 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church.''* We have before stated 
that the laity were not represented in this conference, nor were 
they notified, so far as we have been able to learn, that such a 
measure as the organization of the church was intended to be 
adopted at that time. But the deed was done, and done, too, 

*See Lee's History of the Methodists, p. 94. 


without the sanction or consent of the laity being obtained. 
The question now is, was it right ? We answer, no. It was 
unjust, it was unrighteous. They professed to be acting under 
the sanction of Mr. Wesley's name. In the first quotation 
which we have introduced in this chapter from "Lee's History of 
the Methodists," we are informed that when Dr. Coke and Mr. 
Asbury first met together in America " they consulted together 
about the plan which Mr. Wesley had adopted and recommended 
to us." In all our researches and inquiries in the history of 
Methodism we have been unable to find any thing which can be 
taken for the plan alluded to, unless it be the letter of Mr. Wes- 
ley, dated September 10, 1784, and addressed "To Dr. Coke, 
Mr. Asbury, and our brethren in North America." No other 
document, showing the semblance of "apian," has ever been 
produced in this country, upon the authority of his name with 
the exception of this one. But what is the plan that this docu- 
ment recommends ? Or what is the advice therein given? Let 
Mr. Wesley answer for himself in his own words. Here it is. 
" They (the American Methodists) are now at full liberty simply 
to follow the Scriptures and the primitive church. Jind we judge 
it best that they should stand fast in that liberty wherewith God 
has so strangely made them free." This advice is good. It is 
worthy of the great and good Wesley. But it was not regarded 
by the conference of 1784. If it had been, the rights of the 
laity would neither have been disregarded nor trampled under 
foot. If, according to Mr. Wesley's advice, the usages of the 
"primitive church" had been followed, the laity would have 
been called upon, and permitted to exercise their rights, and act 
their part in the governmental affairs of the church. 

As an ecclesiastical historian, Mosheim ranks among the most 
pre-eminent. This writer informs us that the people, the laity, did 
participate in the councils, and exercise a due weight and influence 
in the affairs and government of the primitive church. He says, 
" It was, therefore, the assembly of the people which chose 
their own rulers and teachers, or received them by a free and 
authoritative consent, when recommended by others. The same 
people rejected or confirmed, by their suffrage, the laws that were 
proposed by their rulers to the assembly ; excommunicated profli- 


gate and unworthy members of the church ; restored the penitents 
to their forfeited privileges; passed judgment upon the different 
subjects of controversy and dissension that arose in their com- 
munity; examined and decided the disputes which happened 
between the elders and deacons; and, in a word, exercised all that 
authority which belongs to such as are invested with the sove- 
reign power." This authority and these rights, exercised by the 
"people" of the primitive church, the Baltimore Conference of 
1784 withheld from the "'people" of the M. E. Church. Mr. 
Wesley held the reins of power in his own hands among the 
Methodists in the united kingdom of Great Britain ; he was ac- 
knowledged by these as their spiritual ftuher. He saw proper to 
exclude republicanism from his polity in the government of his 
societies in that part of the world. Indeed it is very probable 
that he may have been quite anti-republican in his feelings in a 
general point of view, as it is a well known fact that he was 
warmly opposed to the independence of the United States. We 
copy the following characteristic letter written by him, and 
which was published in the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine 
(London) for April, 1830. It is addressed to Mr. John Mason. 

Near London, January 13, 1790. 
My Dear Brother, — As long as I live the people shall have no 
share in choosing either stewards or leaders among the Method- 
ists. We have not and never had any such custom. We are no 
republicans, and never intend to be. It would be better for those 
that are so minded to go quietly away. I have been uniform 
both in doctrine and discipline for above these fifty years; and it 
is a littie too late for me to turn into a new path, now I am old 
and gray-headed. Neither good old brother Porna (God bless 
him) expects it from me, nor brother Wood, nor brother Fla- 
mank. If you and I shall be called hence this year, we may 
bless God that we have not Jived in vain. Come, let us have a 
few more strokes at Satan's kingdom, and then we shall depart 
in peace! 

From the tenor of this letter we are left without a doubt con- 
cerning the anti-republicanism of Mr. Wesley's policy with re- 
spect to the government of his Societies in Great Britain. It was 


in that school that the two Britons, Coke and Asbury, formed 
their opinions of church policy for the Methodists. They were 
well acquainted with the modus operandi by which Mr. Wesley 
held the reins of power over his societies, — and if they were 
the lovers of power and authority which some of their friends 
have represented them to be, we need be at no loss to account 
for the manner in which they, as the moving spirits and active 
managers in the conference of 1784, ventured to depart from the 
counsel and advice of Mr. Wesley, with regard to the proper 
course to be pursued by the American Methodists; and this 
departure most unjustly excluded the laity from all participation 
in the councils of the church, by adopting something similar to 
the pattern which they had seen in England. 

Thus have we presented to view the manner in which the 
laity in the Methodist Episcopal Church have been proscribed 
from a participation in the councils which form the rules for the 
government of her members ; and the anomalous spectacle is pre- 
sented before us of the itinerant ministry arrogating to themselves 
the authority and right to legislate for the whole church, to enact 
the rules for the government of all its members, and also to exe- 
cute those rules. With regard to the character of such a govern- 
ment as the one which we have described, we beg leave in this 
place to quote the opinion of Dr. Bascom, which is certainly 
entitled to much weight. The doctor says, "A prescriptive legis- 
lative body, making laws without the knowledge or consent of 
the people to be governed by them, is a despotism. Legislatures 
without constituents, or peers and fellows deputing them as their 
representatives and actors, — thus constituting themselves a legis- 
lature beyond the control of the people, — is an exhibition of 
tyranny in one of its most dangerous forms." With the learned 
author just quoted we fully concur in opinion. The argument 
has been advanced by the advocates of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church polity, that " the system of government adopted by the 
ecclesiastical authorities of said church was prepared for the ac- 
ceptance of the membership, — that every one who united with the 
Methodist Episcopal Church accepted and adopted that system, — 
and consequently agreed to submit and conform to the same." 
Now it must be admitted that such would certainly be a very 



tame submission, when we take into view the powers of the 
General Conference, and the alarming extent to which those 
powers are sometimes exercised. If the General Conference were 
infallible, such submission would not involve so much impropriety, 
nor prove such a dangerous surrender of the exercise of just and 
proper rights. That the action of the General Conference does 
often interfere with the feelings and ecclesiastical situation of those 
who have tamely submitted to the government of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, many will testify. The General Conference of 
1844 passed a resolution, or adopted a plan to divide the church 
into two separate divisions, North and South. The laity were 
not consulted at all upon the subject. The ministry, we presume, 
plead no authority of constitution or Discipline for so doing ; but 
embarked in this work because they believed their powers to be 
competent to the tast under the circumstances. A plan of sepa- 
ration was agreed upon by the itinerant ministry ; the laity having 
no hand in it. That act has proved sorely embarrassing to thou- 
sands of the Jaity of the church, and has led to consequences and 
events long to be deplored in some of the churches in Virginia ; 
particularly in the town of Alexandria at this time. What 
divisions in feeling ! what enmities the plan of separation has 
produced ! And that plan was devised and acted upon by the 
itinerant ministry without consulting the laity ! But the question 
may be asked, can there be any impropriety on the part of a 
Christian by connecting himself with an ecclesiastical establish- 
ment in which the right of the elective franchise is withheld from 
him? We beg leave to call up Dr. Bascom to answer this ques- 
tion. Hear him : 

" Whenever a Christian people place themselves under a min- 
istry who claim the right of thinking and deciding for them, in 
matters of faith and morality, they are guilty of impiely, however 
unintentional, to the great Head of the church, inasmuch as 
it is required of every Christian to reflect and determine for 
himself in all such cases, and the duty cannot be performed by 

This sentiment of the doctor's is weighty. Let the reader 
digest it well. Comment is unnecessary. It is comprehensive 
and expressive. There are thousands of the laity, no doubt, 


who suppose that all church authority of right belongs to the 
clergy; and many may even glory in the "supposed fact that 
they have no ecclesiastical right;" and that all church power is 
safely lodged in the hands of the itinerant ministry. If the piety 
of such men is not deeper than their intelligence, they should he 
objects of our pity. The sentiment quoted above bears very hard 
upon all such. But the question may be asked, may it not tend 
to promote the unity and prosperity of a church, if the laity waive 
or disdain the exercise of all ecclesiastical rights, and suffer the 
exercise of church power or authority to be vested entirely in the 
ministry? We again call Dr. Bascom to the stand. Hear him: 

" Whenever the members of a church resign the right of suf- 
frage, and of discussing freely and fearlessly the conduct of their 
rulers, whether it be done by direct concession, or indirectly by 
attaching themselves to and continuing within the pale of a 
church where such a system of polity obtains, they renounce to a 
fearful extent one of the first principles of the Protestamt 
religion, and bring dishonor upon its name." 

So wrote Dr. Bascom, and who will dare to controvert the doc- 
trine laid down in the sentiment ? It is worthy of all considera- 
tion, and merits the attention of every inquirer after truth. In 
the history of the Methodist Episcopal Church we find that she 
has repeatedly been agitated, and in every instance the nature of 
her government has been the exciting cause ; that the claims to 
high legislative authority set up by the ministry have been one 
of the most fruitful sources of her troubles. Her membership, 
generally, are satisfied with her government, or profess so to be, 
(although conscious that they are permitted to exercise no weight 
or voice in it,) until by some unexpected change in affairs they 
are made to feel the weight of arbitrary power. The scales thus 
falling from their eyes, they begin to talk about just rights, equal 
rights, "mutual rights," &c. Such is the peculiar attachment of 
some to what they have heard called the " most excellent book 
of Discipline" of the M. E. Church, that they will not suffer 
themselves to peruse a paper or document that calls in question 
the justice of the principles couched in that book. The following 
anecdote may not be inappropriate. A gentleman presented to 
his neighbor a little pamphlet entitled, " Questions and Answers 


on Church Government," with a request that he should read it, 
as it contained some things that had interested him. This neigh- 
bor was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and quite 
zealous for her Discipline. Upon laking up the little pamphlet 
in question, and reading one or two pages, he threw it down, ex- 
claiming, " 1 shall not read it ; I see at once that the object is to 
show the superiority of the M. P. Church government over that of 
the M. E. Church ; and that is enough for me to know." Such 
are the men we suppose to whom Dr. Bascom alludes when he 
says, " They renounce to a fearful extent one of the first prin- 
ciples of the Protestant religion, and bring dishonor upon its 


We have had occasion to introduce the name of this dis- 
tinguished minister of the gospel into the body of this work; 
and as much has been said and written from certain quarters, 
tending to disparage the name and character of that good and 
worthy man, we deem it but justice to his memory to make a few 
statements in this place in regard to him. At the conference in 
Baltimore, in 1792, Mr. O'Kelley brought in a resolution which 
read in these words : " After the bishop appoints the preachers 
at conference to their several circuits, if any one think himself 
injured by the appointment, he shall have liberty to appeal to the 
conference and state his objections; and if the conference approve 
his objections, the bishop shall appoint him to another circuit." 
The debates on this resolution sorely agitated the conference. 
It had many talented advocates as well as opponents. The 
measure failed when it was put to vote. The one-man-power 
party triumphed; and Rev. James O'Kelley, Rev. Wm. McKen- 
dree, and several other ministers withdrew from the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, as they were unwilling longer to endure a 
government so arbitrary. 

Rev. Jesse Lee tells us in his history that one of the preachers 
told him " that it was his intention to have O'Kelley tried at that 
conference for the false doctrines which he had been preaching ; 
and he believed that his leaving the conference was more out of 
fear of being brought to trial than on account of the appeal." 



We understand from Mr. Lee that the "false doctrines" alluded 
to was Unitarianism. Dr. Bangs, in his " History of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church," presents Mr. O'Kelley in a position 
scarcely more enviable. These charges and allegations have 
been repeated and reiterated so long and so often that many at the 
present time take it for granted that they are true. I shall here 
record the testimony of one of his Christian friends in vindication 
of his character, one who knew him well, and I might almost say, 
one who knew him best. This writer says of Mr. O'Kelley: 
i- " Many slanders have been leveled at this eminently great and 
pious minister of Jesus Christ by the sycophants of episcopacy. 
According to them his soul was ambitious, and his doctrines 
heterodox; he withdrew because he was not made a bishop. 
This senseless slander, which no man of common understanding 
can believe, has been circulated with as much seriousness by 
some of the ' divinely authorized' as if they really believed the 
truth of their assertion. He was charged with being a Unitarian, 
and of denying the divine character of our common Saviour. I 
was intimately acquainted with him for thirty-five years, in 
which time I have been with him at different times for months 
together. I knew as much of his sentiments as any human being 
upon earth, and I declare before God that he always contended/or 
the divinity of Christ, and the fullness and extent of his atonement, 
with a strength of thought and energy of expression that I have 
never heard equaled hy any other man. This was the subject of 
the last sermon I ever heard him deliver, when bending under the 
weight of almost ninety years. His superior as a Christian and 
his equal as a preacher I have never yet seen. He died in the 
triumphs of faith, and is now seated in his heavenly Saviour's 
kingdom. He was the friend and instructor of my youth, and 
his memory shall be dear to me until my heart is cold in death. 

" Here I wish to make a few remarks respecting the Christian 
Church. About the year 1794 Mr. O'Kelley and others, who had 
withdrawn from the Episcopal Methodists at the General Con- 
ference of 1792, with several societies and local preachers, 
formed themselves into an independent church, and called it the 
'Republican Methodist Church.' This name it bore for several 
years, until a majority became convinced that the disciples of 


Christ should be called by his name, believing this was the 
worthy name by which the primitive saints were called, and that 
they were so called first at Antioch by divine appointment, for so 
the original term seems to imply. This they believe is the new 
name by which the Lord promised his followers should be called. 
This name, therefore, was adopted. There were, indeed, a few 
who opposed its adoption, viz: Rev. John Robertson, Thomas 
Hardy and Edward Almond, and a few private members, who 
still retained the former name. This little church is now extinct. 
The church in connection with Mr. O'Kelley always did and still 
does believe, and her ministers preach, the doctrine of a trinity, 
the divinity of the Son of God, and his atonement for lost sinners, 
as fully and closely as any people upon earth. Some years after 
the organization of this church a sect sprang up in New England, 
who are strictly Unitarians, also calling themselves the 'Christian 
Church.' They published a paper entitled ' The Herald of Gos- 
pel Liberty,' edited by Elias Smith, in which they deny the 
divinity of Christ, and ridicule the doctrine of atonement. They 
refuse baptism to infants, and administer it by immersion to adults 

" Seventeen or eighteen years past, a missionary by the name of 
Plummer was sent from this body, who attended a general meet- 
ing of the Christian Church. Mr. O'Kelley asked him, ' If Jesus 
Christ were now upon earth, and you knew it were he, would 
you worship him ?' He answered, ' No, no sooner than I would 
you, for 1 do not believe he was any more divine.' Mr. 
O'Kelley replied, 'Then I have no fellowship for you?' He 
was a man of insinuating address. He drew off Mr. William 
Guiry, a man of ingenuity and eloquence ; and they proselyted 
some of the most numerous and respectable societies in Virginia 
and every traveling preacher at that time in connection with Mr. 
O'Kelley, with some local preachers and a few members, and two 
or three preachers in this State. There is no intercourse between 
these churches. Those who remained firm to their first doctrines 
refused all fellowship with this heterodox party, and viewed 
them as refined infidels infinitely more dangerous than the dis- 
ciples of Voltaire, Rosseau, or Paine. But being called by the 
same general name, the same heterodoxy is by many indiscrimi- 


nately ascribed to all, for the want of information, and by numbers 
more from design, especially some of the 'divinely authorized,' 
many of whom know better, but, to injure a church they do not love, 
they zealously propagate the cruel slander. The charge of Arian- 
ism, Socinianism, &c, so liberally bestowed upon the orthodox 
Christian Church,* has more than all other things retarded its 
prosperity and advancement ; but, in spite of all opposition, it is 
gradually increasing. It has a number of respectable, pious and 
useful preachers, and some of them of superior talents, and 
several thousand members. There have been some considerable 
revivals in it in the course of a few years, with the addition of 
some hundreds of members. The members and preachers of this 
church are to a man (1 believe) genuine republicans, and ardently 
wish the most complete success to the reformers in their glorious 

" This brief statement I have shown to an old preacher of high 
standing and several members of the Christian Church, who are 
of opinion that its publicity may be attended with good conse- 
quences. To Mr. O'Kelly and his dissenting brethren, as well as 
us reformers, has been meted out a full share of episcopal ire. 
We may well doubt the goodness of a cause which requires such 
weapons to defend it. Despotism and tyranny need persecution 
and slander to support them. Truth and justice can stand by 
themselves. If they had truth on their side, surely it could be 
fairly defended; and although the bombast of an Armistead, and 
the sophistical reasoning of one of the laity, a Bond and an 
Emory have failed, (here must be at least one champion in the 
invincible phalanx of the itinerants who, Sampson-like, could 
step forward and tear up the sophisms of the reformers by the 
roots and expose their nefarious designs to the contempt and ab- 
horrence of the world. f The advocates for reform deserve well 
of their brethren of every sect, for indeed religious liberty is a 
common cause; and notwithstanding all that their enemies can 
say against them, the names of an O'Kelley, a Jennings, a Shinn, 

* The church in which Mr. O'Kelley lived in full fellowship. 
fThis article was written in the time in which the reform ques- 
tion was agitated. 


a McCaine, a Snethen, and a Dorsey, with many others of the 
martyrs of the present times, shall live embalmed in the grateful 
recollection of unborn thousands, and be handed down with honor 
to the latest generation, while the names of the present episcopal 
despots shall perish from the earth or only be remembered with 
disgust as the religious oppressors of the present day. 

" A CiTrzEN of Caswell County, N. C." 

We regard the preceding paper as a triumphant defence of that 
pious and worthy minister, Mr. O'Kelley. Let those who have 
regarded him as guilty of the heresy of Unitarianism weigh it 
well. But the question may be asked, has not the denomination 
with which he lived in fellowship, embraced the doctrine of the 
Unitarians ? There is a union or fraternal relation of some kind 
existing between them and the Unitarians of the north, which 
union was consummated about the year 1839. In the south there 
are three conferences, called "• the North Carolina and Virginia 
Christian Conference," " the North Carolina Christian Confer- 
ence," and " the Eastern Virginia Christian Conference." The 
last named conference is composed principally of the party drawn 
away from Mr. O'Kelley by Mr. Plummer. The three conferences 
meet together in what they call the " Southern Christian Asso- 
ciation." They have established a paper entitled the " Christian 
Sun," w-hich is devoted to the interests of the association, and in 
which the doctrine of Unitarianism is boldly advocated. 

The last session of this association adopted the following reso- 
lution, "Resolved, that we advise our brethren to procure for 
their use the hymn book published by the Christian General 
Book Association at Albany, N. Y." Although we believe, from 
our acquaintance with these people, that somefeiv of the ministers 
are sound in the doctrines once preached by Mr. O'Kelley, yet we 
think this alliance with the Unitarians is altogether improper and 
highly reprehensible, as it appears that they unite upon a name, 
keeping doctrines and faith out of the question. Under all these 
circumstances, we fear that the flourishing Christian Churches 
planted by the venerable O'Kelley will ere long become the 
school of Unitarianism. 

Mr. O'Kelley was like Mr. Whitfield, a great and successful 
minister of the gospel, but deficient in the economy of church 


government. Herein be failed. If the more cautious and politic 
Wesley had pursued the course adopted by the two former and 
failed to bind his societies together by written rules, and unite 
them thereby upon well denned principles, they might at this 
day have been as few in numbers as those of Mr. Whitfield. 
Mr. O'Kelley and his preachers, with the societies, adopted the 
New Testament both as a confession of faith and a discipline for 
the government of the church. But men with regard^to the doc- 
trines of the New Testament differ widely — even so with regard 
to the maxims of church polity contained therein. And it is the 
opinion of those most experienced in ecclesiastical affairs that a 
condensed embodiment of the fundamental doctrines of religion 
and a summary of well defined rules for government, secure the 
most unity and harmony in the church, and lead to the greatest 
prosperity, as they admit of less latitude of construction than 
many take in the New Testament. Mr. O'Kelley has gone the 
way of all the earth, but he has left a name and a character that 
live embalmed in the fond recollection of numerous friends and 
admirers. He closed his useful life in peace, and we trust has 
entered into that rest which remaineth for the people of God. 


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